Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced Tuesday he will not seek the Republican endorsement in the governor’s race, opting instead to head straight for the August party primary.
The former governor joined the race in April and is up against three other GOP candidates who are all seeking the endorsement at the Republican Party convention in June.
“Tim appreciates the convention delegates, but his late entry into the race effectively precluded a fair fight for endorsement at the convention,” Pawlenty spokesman Sam Winter said in a statement. “As a result, he has decided not to participate in the convention and instead will make his case directly to the broader and larger group of voters who will be participating in the Republican primary on Tuesday, August 14th.”
Other GOP candidates — Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and Navy Reserve intelligence officer Phillip Parrish — are after the party’s endorsement at the Duluth convention. Whichever of those candidates clinches the endorsement now faces the prospect of a primary race against Pawlenty, a formidable fundraiser whose previous stint as governor also brings high name recognition.
Johnson said the endorsed candidate and Pawlenty will spend the summer fighting among themselves instead of focusing on Democrats, which weakens Republicans’ chance of winning in November. It doesn’t bode well for Pawlenty that he is doing poorly with convention delegates, who tend to be the party’s most active campaigners, Johnson said.
“He was a former two-term governor and presidential candidate. So to suggest that he couldn’t compete with a county commissioner because I’ve been in the race longer than him ... that’s kind of telling,” Johnson said.
Winter’s statement said they are confident Pawlenty will win the primary and be on the November ballot.