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Minnesota: No Domino Effect From Pawlenty Exit

No one from the Gopher State’s Congressional delegation appears headed for the exits in light of Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s (R) announcement this week that he will not run for a third term in 2010.

Reps. Michele Bachmann (R) and Tim Walz (D) have been mentioned as possible gubernatorial candidates in an open-seat scenario, but neither appeared likely to be enticed away from Capitol Hill after Pawlenty made his announcement.

According to several news reports, aides to Bachmann said the Congresswoman is very happy where she is now representing the state’s 6th district. Likewise, Walz reiterated that he is not interested in seeking higher office in light of Pawlenty’s retirement.

Still, it’s possible that the 2010 gubernatorial field could feature one or more former Members of Congress.

Former Sen. Mark Dayton (D) had already announced he is running for governor even before there was an open seat. Handicappers agree that the one-term Senator’s personal wealth is just about the only asset that makes him formidable in a crowded field.

On the GOP side, former Rep. Jim Ramstad’s name surfaced almost immediately after Pawlenty’s announcement. Ramstad, who retired last year, is politically moderate, and therefore he could have trouble winning the nomination at a convention dominated by conservatives. But many observers say he might have one of the best profiles for the general election.

Finally, there is former Sen. Norm Coleman (R), whose appeal of the disputed 2008 Senate race results began to be heard by the state Supreme Court this week. Most signs point to a ruling in favor of Democrat Al Franken — who has a 312-vote lead in the race after a recount.

With his Senate case still ongoing, Coleman hasn’t expressed any interest in the gubernatorial contest. He has run for governor before, but current polls show that the protracted Senate race has damaged his favorability ratings.