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Tim Pawlenty Not Running for Senate in Minnesota

Republicans saw him as strongest recruit to take on Tina Smith in November

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will not run for Senate in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will not run for Senate in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday he will not run in November’s special election for Senate.

“I am very interested in public service and service for the common good — there are a lot of different ways to do that — but I’ll tell you today running for the United States Senate in 2018 won’t be part of those plans,” Pawlenty told Fox Business. 

Many Republicans had considered Pawlenty, currently the CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, their best shot to take on newly appointed Sen. Tina Smith in the special election to fill former Sen. Al Franken’s seat.

Pawlenty was the last Republican to win a statewide election. Former Sen. Norm Coleman, who had spoken to Pawlenty about service in the Senate, had called him the “ideal candidate.”

In response to questions about GOP fundraisers urging him to run, Pawlenty said on Fox Business Tuesday he appreciated their encouragement but pointed out the difficulty of running a 10-month campaign.

“It’s going to be a very competitive race in a tough state for a Republican, so you’d have to start very soon,” he said. 

[Tina Smith Has Just 10 Months to Keep Her New Job]

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rated the race Likely Democratic after Franken announced his resignation. 

GOP Rep. Tom Emmer may be interested. Former Rep. Michele Bachmann has said she’s been encouraged to run. State House Speaker Kurt Daudt is another potential contender. State Sen. Karin Housley — the wife of the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres — is already running. 

“State Senator Karin Housley is, as they say in racing, in the pole position,” Coleman said in an email Tuesday afternoon.

The GOP endorsement will be made at the state party’s June convention. Ballot access will be determined by the primary in August. 

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