Pawlenty: ‘I’m reflecting’ but not ready for political run

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty isn’t ruling out a run for U.S. Senate but he isn’t rushing into the 2018 race, either.

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty spoke Friday to the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce. Brian Bakst | MPR News

“Like everyone else I’m reflecting on these events that have happened in Minnesota to our elected representatives, what’s happening across the country and trying to figure out what can we do to make it better,” Pawlenty said Friday.

Pawlenty, the last Republican to win a statewide race in Minnesota, addressed questions about his interest in running for the seat that Democratic Sen. Al Franken will give up in the coming weeks.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton will fill the seat at least temporarily through appointment, but voters will decide in a special election next November who will serve the final two years of the Franken term.

“I want to be clear: I remain politically retired. But like everybody else I’m thinking about all the challenges and troubles our country is facing and asking what can I do to make it better. And I don’t know if that means returning to public service,” Pawlenty said before a speech to the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce in St. Louis Park, one of many such events he’s appeared at in recent months.

Pawlenty has given similar answers about his interest in running for the governor’s office. He served two terms, leaving in 2011 and waging a short-lived campaign for the presidency. He currently holds an executive position for the Financial Services Roundtable, which represents banking and other financial-sector firms.

Pawlenty’s name shot to the top of lists of potential Republicans candidates when it became clear Franken would give up the seat amid sexual misconduct allegations. Franken announced Thursday he would leave office but didn’t give a departure date.

He said he was at a Bruce Springsteen concert with wife, Mary, when his phone started lighting up with messages of encouragement about the soon-to-be-open seat.

Pawlenty didn’t provide a timetable for a decision. He would have to file by early June to make the ballot.

  • Pawlenty or Norm Coleman would win the seat. We need a charismatic, articulate, hard charging Conservative to replace Dayton. Nobody comes to mind.