Pawlenty expecting “several hundred” at fundraiser tonight

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The tables are already set up at International Market Square where former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s presidential exploratory campaign says it’s expecting hundreds of people to turn out for a fundraiser tonight.

Pawlenty Spokesman Alex Conant told MPR News most of the invited guests will be from Minnesota and many will be contributing the maximum $2,500 per person allowed.

“The governor has a lot of friends and supporters in Minnesota who have been really critical to his career to date,” Conant said, “and now as we get ready to launch his presidential campaign we’re kicking it off with a big fundraiser with all of his friends and supporters over the years to chip into the exploratory committee and then he’ll have a formal announcement shortly thereafter.”

Conant says that formal announcement will come in weeks, not days.

Reporters will not be allowed at the fundraiser.

Political analysts say for Pawlenty to be a viable candidate he needs to raise a lot of money during the second quarter. Conant says Pawlenty is unlikely to out raise fellow Republican Mitt Romney, who took in more than $10 million during a single day of fundraising earlier this week.