Now That Tim Pawlenty's Out of the Race, Everyone Wants to Date Ray Washburne

In mid-May, Ray Washburne explained his attraction to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty thusly: "He's got a great story to tell." This was in a Wall Street Journal piece about how Pawlenty was attracting big-money men such as Washburne -- co-founder of Mi Cocina, owner of the Highland Park Village, Phil's Natural Food Market-eer, former Met and Texas Business publisher, Bush Ranger -- and other locals, including Harold Simmons, Tom Hicks and Kenny Troutt. Washburne was still a solid Pawlenty man just a few weeks ago, when he cautioned The New York Times that, look, those Dubya donors ain't around no more: "Nobody is inheriting any kind of apparatus left over from the Bushes at all."

But what about now -- now that Rick Perry's in it to win it?

That's the question asked of Washburne repeatedly in the last 24 hours: Where will Pawlenty's moneymen go now that he's out and George W. Bush's successor as Texas governor hopes to follow him to D.C., otherwise known as Rick Perry's A&M report card grades. He tells Politico, don't look for 'em to go Michele Bachmann:

"It's going to be a migration to either Perry or Romney," said Ray Washburne, a Texas real-estate developer and restaurateur who raised money for Pawlenty. "None of the other candidates are getting our people."

Washburne added, "Let's get behind someone who can actually win."

Romney and Rick musta heard Ray, judging by this morning's Times. Washburne says ...

...he received telephone calls from Mr. Romney and Mr. Perry on Sunday morning not long after Mr. Pawlenty announced his intention to leave the race. Both campaigns were aggressively pursuing political operatives, contributors and rank-and-file supporters.

"When the girlfriend breaks up with you," Mr. Washburne said, "you're not ready to start dating just yet."

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