Republican Mike McFadden and former Minnesota District Court Judge Mary Pawlenty both announced this week that they have decided against running for the 2nd Congressional District seat.
The two had considered running for Congress after veteran U.S. Rep. John Kline surprised many when he announced he will not run again for the seat and now the race in the district is thought to be a toss-up.
McFadden opts against run
McFadden, who developed statewide recognition in his unsuccessful run against U.S. Senator Al Franken last year, has decided against running for the seat so he can focus on education reform in Minnesota, The Associated Press says.
“After giving the race serious consideration I have concluded that I am not going to run for congress,” McFadden said in a text message to the Pioneer Press. "I want to continue to focus on education reform in Minnesota, and am committed to solving the achievement gap," he said. "I think that can be best done here in Minnesota.”
McFadden is a board member at two Twin Cities schools geared toward minority students.
He is the second Republican candidate who considered, but then declined to run for the seat, the Pioneer Press says.
Pawlenty chooses to remain a mediator
Pawlenty, former judge and Minnesota's first lady, had indicated she was considering a run for the seat, but on Tuesday she announced she won't be throwing her hat into the ring.
In a statement, she said:
"I deeply appreciate the words of encouragement I received from so many people whose opinions I respect, urging me to run for Congress in the Second District. However, I am choosing to remain a Mediator, a professional who facilitates conflict resolution. Each of us can and should serve our communities in the best way we know how, and at this phase of my life my preference is to stay focused on helping people find workable and agreeable solutions to their differences."
Those who had been pushing for Pawlenty to run told the Washington Examiner, which carried a story about her this week, that she's "well-known" and a "good, likable candidate" who would "easily be the lead fundraiser."
Who else might run?
While Kline has handily won re-election over the past seven terms, the 2nd district went for President Barack Obama in 2012 and Democrats believe they have a strong shot at winning the seat.
Two Democrats announced their campaigns earlier this year: Mary Lawrence, a Minneapolis doctor, and Angie Craig, a St. Jude’s Medical executive. And two DFL lawmakers are also considering a bid for the seat: Rep. Joe Atkins of Inver Grove Heights and Rep. Rick Hansen of South St. Paul, the Pioneer Press says.
As for the Republicans, David Gerson, a Tea Party Republican who challenged Kline in the last two elections, has already said he's planning to run again, the Star Tribune reported.
Other potential candidates include: Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa and Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, the Pioneer Press notes.