LAKEVILLE, Minn. – Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is one step closer to running for his old job, announcing the creation of a campaign committee on Monday.
While the campaign committee seems like a sure step towards Pawlenty’s anticipated gubernatorial bid, Pawlenty stopped short of launching a campaign, instead saying he will make an official announcement “soon.”
“I’m optimistic about Minnesota’s future and understand how to deliver more accountable government and better jobs,” Pawlenty said in a statement. “As a two-term governor, I know what it takes to lead our state in the right direction at this pivotal moment in American history.”
Under Minnesota law, any potential candidate raising money must file a campaign committee with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board within 14 days of raising over $750 in donations or spending the same amount. Pawlenty has already started raising money for his potential campaign, including an upcoming fundraiser in Naples, Florida this week.
In addition to forming the campaign committee, the former governor also launched a “Pawlenty 2018” website, saying he’s considering running “because Minnesota faces new and difficult challenges in a changing economy.”
The potential that Pawlenty would join the race to replace outgoing Gov. Mark Dayton has been talked about for weeks now, with the leading Republican gubernatorial candidates attempting to downplay the new challenger.
Candidate for Governor Keith Downey, former Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman, took a swipe at Pawlenty’s years spent in Washington D.C. working as as CEO of the lobbying firm Financial Services Roundtable, saying “it’s time for him to get back out in front of the people of Minnesota again.”
“I welcome Tim Pawlenty to the race. After his long absence in Washington D.C., it’s time for him to get back out in front of the people of Minnesota again. A lot has changed,” Downey said in a press release. “Hopefully, the media, the establishment, and the other candidates will now quit obsessing on the political calculations around his entry into the race, and finally focus on who is the best candidate with the strongest record and message for Minnesota.”
Hennepin County Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson also dismissed Pawlenty’s impending campaign, saying everybody has known Pawlenty will seek a third term for months.
“Everyone knows [Pawlenty] has been running for months now, so I don’t get too distracted by his weekly political maneuvers,” Johnson said in a statement obtained by the Star Tribune. “I’ll just keep campaigning around Minnesota and working hard to earn people’s votes.”