T-Paw has not gotten a lot of love from the denizens of PoliticalDerby. I am personally responsible for a joke in one of our previous Power Rankings that implied he would put the children of American to sleep if he ever appeared on Sesame Street.

But maybe, just maybe, its time we took Pawlenty a little more seriously, as he is quietly assembling a strong, smart, and respected team in the early states of the 2012 nomination cycle:

Eric Woolson, a top aide to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, has reportedly signed on with Pawlenty for the coming 2012 contest. As noted by Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, Woolson was considered a key cog in Huckabee’s 2008 Iowa effort – and it’s not lost on GOP activists that Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses.

In New Hampshire, the second state on the calendar, RealClearPolitics has learned that top Republican strategist Rich Killion is poised to join the Pawlenty team as well. Like Woolson, Killion is not a household name, but he is highly respected among party professionals and landing him is a considered a significant coup for Pawlenty.

PD could not confirm the reports that Pawlenty has also approached Don Rickles to help him locate a personality.