Publish date:

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Keith Downey has withdrawn from the race to become Minnesota's next governor, and says Tim Pawlenty's decision to run for the GOP ticket is the reason.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


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

Sign up for our daily newsletters

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.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-10-15 at 10.01.55 PM

Police still searching for suspect who opened fire at Plymouth movie theater

It sparked a partial evacuation of the Emagine Willow Creek theater.

covid, vaccine

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, October 18

Hospitalizations have surpassed 1,000 in the latest update.

Gully Boys van stolen Twitter pic 1

Mpls. band Gully Boys' van stolen, with all their gear inside

They're asking Twin Cities residents to be on the lookout for the silver van.

ATV, all-terrain vehicle

2 girls from St. Cloud injured in ATV crash

Neither girl was wearing a helmet, the sheriff's office said.

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins has turned into a late-game killer for the Vikings

Cousins has given the Vikings a chance to tie or win the game 7 times in 6 games.

john oliver

Watch: The absurd ad 'Last Week Tonight' wrote for a MN car dealership

Host John Oliver described the commercial as a "tense domestic psychodrama."

Car driving

Minnesota is on track for the most road deaths since 2007

Minnesota has recorded 384 traffic deaths as of Oct. 14.


1 dead, 1 airlifted following Goodhue County crash

The crash happened around 6:15 a.m. Sunday.

railroad crossing, train crossing

Woman found dead on train tracks in Moorhead

The woman was located by officials on train tracks near Memorial Park Sunday morning.

police tape, crime scene

Search for killer after man is fatally shot in Hopkins

The shooting was reported around 7:40 p.m. Sunday.


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

His fundraising far outstrips his GOP rivals.

Tim Pawlenty won't seek endorsement at GOP convention

He'll focus his efforts on the Republican primary, he confirmed.

Tina Liebling's exit from governor race leaves 3 DFL candidates

She said her campaign would not succeed in the endorsement process.

In first TV ad, Tim Pawlenty goes after Jeff Johnson

His focus is not on Democrats, but his GOP primary opponent.

Tim Pawlenty is focusing his attacks on Tim Walz - and vice-versa

But Democrats also think Pawlenty is the main Republican threat.