From the continuation of the Fox News “12 in 2012” series, here is a profile of Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

From Fox News:

When Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty took over the state’s executive office in 2003, Minnesota was facing a more than $4 billion budget shortfall — an amount that was nearly 20 percent of the state’s budget.

Minnesota’s left-leaning Legislature wanted to raise the state’s gas, alcohol and income taxes, but Pawlenty refused. Instead, he scoured the books and cut the budget by $3 billion.

“I wish I could tell you it was all reaching across the aisle with some great bipartisan — you know, charm and getting along. There was some of that. But a lot of it was just a hard slog. I mean we had shut downs, special sessions and lawsuits. I personally un-allotted $3 billion out of the budget myself,” Pawlenty told Fox News.

Most of the cuts came from transportation, welfare and other state services. But it’s that kind of effort that put Pawlenty on the Libertarian Cato Institute’s list of only four governors in the country to earn a reputation as a “frugal budgeter.” It’s also an achievement poll watchers are considering as they weigh the 2012 field for a Republican nominee to challenge President Obama.

Pawlenty has been a popular choice among many Republicans for years now. He has good credibility but lacks a lot of national name recognition. He’ll have a battle ahead but he has grassroots support to propel him into the race should he decide to declare his candidacy.