WASHINGTON (CNN) – Just four days after professing ignorance about the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district, Tim Pawlenty changed course Monday and decided to endorse Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman instead of the Republican in the race.
Pawlenty's move follows decisions by other prominent national conservatives - including Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson, Dick Armey and Rick Santorum - to line up against the GOP candidate, Dede Scozzafava. They and other activists on the right have accused Scozzafava of being too liberal for the GOP, and are throwing resources and support to Hoffman.
The Minnesota governor, who is courting conservatives as he mulls a possible 2012 presidential bid, made his endorsement in an e-mail to the blog RedState.
"We cannot send more politicians to Washington who wear the Republican jersey on the campaign trail, but then vote like Democrats in Congress on issues like card check and taxes," Pawlenty said in the statement. "After reviewing the candidates' positions, I'm endorsing Doug Hoffman in New York's special election. Doug understands the federal government needs to quit spending so much, will vote against tax increases, and protect key values like the right to vote in private in union elections."
Last Thursday, after a fundraiser in Washington, Pawlenty told reporters he wasn't following the race and declined to make an endorsement.
"You know I haven't been following that, I haven't studied the race at all," he said at the time. "It's not that I would or wouldn't, I just don't know anything about it. I haven't taken the time to study their positions, their records, so I haven't taken a position on it."
Scozzafava and Hoffman are on the ballot along with Democrat Bill Owens. Election Day is November 3.
UPDATE: A Pawlenty aide reports that the governor's recently-created "Freedom First" political action committee will donate $2,400 to the Hoffman campaign, the maximum contribution allowed. The gift marks the PAC's first donation since it was formed earlier this month.