WAYZATA, Minn. -- Republican donors converged at a privatemansion on the shores of Lake Minnetonka Wednesday for a chance to rub elbows with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and raise some cash for presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The event,hosted by Scott and Jamie Honour, drew a who's who of Minnesota Republicans, including former Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Senators Norm Coleman and Rudy Boschwitz, House Speaker Kurt Zellers andstate party chair Pat Shortridge.
According to the invitation to the private fundraiser, the reception was open to those who donated or raised $2,500 per person.A roundtable discussion and photo op with Christie was offered for $25,000 per person.
Gov. Christie, a rising Republican star known for his straight talk, rolled past waiting media and into the private driveway of the mansion in an SUV escorted by Minnesota State Patrol officers.
Both Christie and Pawlenty have been mentioned as possible running mates for Romney, the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee. But recently more speculation has focusedon Pawlenty, said to be on a short list of three VP finalists.
"Tim Pawlenty brings no negatives, lots of positives. His working-class roots are important and would be another plus for thecampaign," ColemantoldKARE.
"I'd love to see him on the ticket. In the end Governor Romney's running against Barack Obama."
Coleman now heads the American Action Network, a Washington-based organization that supports conservative causes and Republican candidates.
Rep. Zellers, who endorsed Pawlenty's presidential run, said that the former Minnesota governor will add balance to ticket.
"Governor Pawlenty offers that middle class, American Midwestern values," Zellerstold KARE. "And he does a great job. Fore us here in Minnesota foreight years did a fantastic job."
Pawlenty, who was passed over by John McCain in favor of Sarah Palin in 2008, has worked tirelessly for the Romney campaign since ending his own presidential bid last August.
Pawlenty leftthe fundraiser early, without stopping to speak to the media. Hewas headed toWoodbury for afundraiser for State Rep Andrea Kieffer, a freshman Republican seeking reelection in a newly redrawn district.
The valet parkers earned their pay, with seven Porsches and one Ferrari among the cars they parked for arriving guests. The neighborhood, on a small peninsula, does not have much room for off-street parking.