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Keith Downey withdraws from GOP race for governor, blames Tim Pawlenty

The former Minnesota GOP party chair says Pawlenty's entry 'changed the landscape.'

Keith Downey has withdrawn from the race to become Minnesota's next governor, and says Tim Pawlenty's decision to run for the GOP ticket is the reason.

The former Minnesota GOP party chair says the "landscape changed dramatically" upon Pawlenty's entry to the race earlier this month.

As a result, he can no longer "see a path to victory."

"It is an honor to run and hold public office, and for me none greater than to run for governor," he said in a statement. "But the opportunity for me to win in November has closed."

Related:

– Tim Pawlenty has already raised $1M for his governor run.

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Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has brought significant financial muscle to the Republican race, revealing on Tuesday that his campaign had raised more than $1 million in March alone – even though he didn't announce till Apr. 5.

"The endorsement race remains wide open," Downey said in an email to supporters. "Our campaign has built the infrastructure, and we have the funds, to run strong through the state convention to vie for the endorsement.

"But the reality is that the landscape changed dramatically when former Governor Tim Pawlenty considered, and then entered, the race."

He also aimed a little dig at Pawlenty, writing that "I doubt that a typical Republican message is what voters are looking for."

Pawlenty's strongest challenger for the GOP nomination is likely to be Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who unsuccessfully ran against Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014.

Johnson finished first in a straw poll of GOP challengers in the February precinct caucuses, with Downey in second place.

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