And then there was one

AND THEN THERE WAS ONE…. We’re about 10 months from Iowa’s Republican presidential caucuses, and about two months from the first scheduled GOP debate for the 2012 presidential field. Now all we need is some candidates.

Yes, I realize former pizza company executive Herman Cain and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer have already begun campaigning, but the field of credible, likely-to-be-competitive Republican hopefuls is surprisingly sparse. Which is to say, there is no field. Given all the GOP clamoring, it was hard to predict last year that we’d have exactly zero top-tier Republican candidates as late as March 21.

By all indications, that will change today.

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will file paperwork today to organize his bid for the White House, he told supporters on a conference call today.

The bid, to be announced on Facebook later today, will be headquartered in the Twin Cities.

An aide, Phil Musser, asked donors to wait until April 1 to contribute to Pawlenty’s campaign, in order to avoid the impression that he’d tried and failed to raise much money in his first quarter.

The formal announcement will reportedly come on Facebook later this afternoon. Pawlenty won’t formally launch a campaign, but will instead create an exploratory committee — the move that comes before the actual campaign.

I suspect much of the punditry surrounding the news will focus on the fact that Pawlenty is a dull and uninspiring character, who’ll enter the race with very little support in the polls. That analysis will be true. Others will likely note that Pawlenty has a very thin record for a two-term governor; he isn’t well liked in his own state; he was a moderate who’s now dressing up in right-wing clothing; he has no meaningful areas of expertise in any subject; and he’s even begun pretending to have a Southern accent as part of a bizarre effort to appear folksy.

All of this will be true, too.

And yet, as hard as it may seem to take Tim Pawlenty seriously as a presidential candidate, the notion of him actually winning the GOP nomination is not, on its face, ridiculous. The rest of the likely field is so deeply flawed, it’s plausible to think Pawlenty may simply find himself as the last one standing.

There are several Republicans contingents and constituencies, and Pawlenty may very well prove to be just inoffensive enough to satisfy all of them.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.