I have done my best to ignore Tim Pawlenty. He has never struck me as the most exciting politician. His global warming position made me squeamish. He’s always had an okay record as Governor, but around the edges he struck me as not really a movement conservative.So I haven’t paid attention to Tim Pawlenty. Then he went and hired Nick Ayers.For those of you who do not know Nick Ayers, he just finished a very successful tenure as Executive Director of the Republican Governors Association. Wunderkind is a word typically associated with Ayers.He is a young, principled conservative grounded in an unapologetic faith in Christ. I know him pretty well. He started out in politics and I just took him for being a bright kid in the right place at the right time for Georgia’s Republican tidal wave back in 2002. But he kept being successful. At some point, people like me who were willing to assume it had all been about being in the right place at the right time had to realize Nick Ayers is sharp.And he is not a sell out — a trait I have more fondness for than most traits among political wunderkinds.For the past year, Republicans have been in a war to get Nick Ayers. Pretty much everyone has wanted him. Instead, Nick sat on the sidelines, choosing instead to help Reince Preibus’s transition to the RNC.Everyone assumed, given the closeness of their relationship, that Nick would be going with Haley Barbour. That Nick did not suggests to me that either Barbour is not fully invested in 2012 or he really has no shot of winning.This is all a long way of saying that this hire forces me to pay attention to Tim Pawlenty and you should too now. Putting a twenty-something in such a position is a bold and risky move. But Nick Ayers’s track record suggests Pawlenty is suddenly a force to be reckoned with — especially for guys like me who were counting him out before he really got started.Single staff picks are rarely, if ever, game changers. But they can be game starters. To me, that’s what this is. Tim Pawlenty is in it to win it in a way I didn’t think he really would be.