Minn. Gov. Pawlenty hasn't yet sent in census formby Martiga Lohn, Associated Press
St. Paul, Minn. — Some governors have mailed their census forms in front of cameras, or turned them in before the April 1 deadline to encourage people to participate in the once-a-decade population count. Others have sent them back with less fanfare.
Not Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a potential Republican presidential candidate.
With billions in federal aid and one of his state's eight U.S. House seats on the line, Pawlenty said Friday he hasn't opened the envelope containing his census form more than a week after he proclaimed Census Day.
"It's sitting on my desk in Eagan, and I threw it to the side," the two-term governor said on his weekly WCCO Radio show after a caller asked how he was promoting census participation. "I'm going to fill it out in a timely manner."
A Pawlenty spokesman later said the governor plans to complete the form this weekend.
Pawlenty's relaxed attitude contrasted with cranked-up state efforts to count everyone. State demographer Tom Gillaspy said undercounting as few as 1,500 residents could mean losing a congressional seat.
State census coordinator Mario Vargas said Pawlenty's remarks surprised him.
"We understand that he is going to reply, which is the most important part of the process," Vargas said. "If it's a little late, it's a little late."
The U.S. Census Bureau is asking people to send their forms by April 16 before census takers start going door to door in May. It costs the federal government 42 cents to send the form, compared with $57 to send a counter out.
Federal law requires people to participate in the census.
At least two other governors, both Democrats, have yet to respond to the census. Spokesmen said Maryland's Martin O'Malley plans to fill out his form, while Wyoming's Dave Freudenthal is still waiting for his to arrive in the mail.
Among Pawlenty's Republican colleagues, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, Mississippi's Haley Barbour and Florida's Charlie Crist have mailed back completed forms, their offices said.
"It's good to practice what you preach, isn't it?" Crist said Friday.
Democrats Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, Beverly Perdue of North Carolina and David Paterson of New York held news conferences to fill out or mail their forms.
Wisconsin has the nation's best participation rate, with three-quarters of households sending back completed forms. Minnesota and Iowa are tied for second at 73 percent, compared with a national rate of 64 percent.
In Eagan -- the Twin Cities suburb where Pawlenty lives when he's not at the governor's official residence in St. Paul -- 77 percent of residents have sent in the census.
Pawlenty said he got two forms, one for Eagan and one for St. Paul. He said he plans to use the Eagan form.
Spokesman Brian McClung said the official residence form was completed and returned, listing no inhabitants.
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