Humiliated GOP Ex-Governor Says He's Done With Politics After Crushing Loss in Minnesota: 'I'm Just Not a Trump-Like Politician'
Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has been out of politics ever since his quiet loss in the early rounds of the 2012 Republican presidential primary. But this year, with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton retiring, he suited up and planned a grand comeback with a run for a third term of his old job.
Voters said no thanks.
On Tuesday night, Minnesota Republicans picked Jeff Johnson over Pawlenty, 52 to 43. Johnson, a former Hennepin County commissioner and state representative, had less name recognition and fundraising, but won by appealing to Trump voters. He will face off against Democratic Rep. Tim Walz for the governorship this November.
The defeat is a total humiliation for Pawlenty, and, as far as he's concerned, the end of his political career.
"The Republican Party has shifted," Pawlenty told reporters last night, according to Eric Roper of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "It is the era of Trump and I'm just not a Trump-like politician."
When asked if he is done with politics, he replied, "The answer is yes."
Pawlenty served as governor of Minnesota from 2003 to 2011, taking over from flamboyant third-party Gov. Jesse Ventura. His administration was marked by controversy, including an attempt to cut spending that was ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court, and his veto of an infrastructure bill just after a deadly bridge collapse in Minneapolis.
After Pawlenty exited his lobbyist job in D.C. to run for a third term, he was widely presumed the frontrunner. One other candidate, former Minnesota GOP chairman Keith Downey, ended his campaign rather than face him.
In the end, however, he could not convince Minnesota voters — or even Minnesota Republicans — to take him back.