Skip to main content

Tim Pawlenty says he's 'very interested in public service' – but won't run for U.S. Senate in 2018

His name had been tossed around as a possible Republican candidate.

The Essentials

1. Tim Pawlenty will not be running for the U.S. Senate seat in 2018 – a position currently held by Sen. Tina Smith, after Al Franken's abrupt resignation. (Current Sen. Amy Klobuchar faces re-election this year too.) 

2. The Republican former governor of Minnesota said very clearly on Fox Business Tuesday that "running for the United States Senate in 2018 won't" be part of his plans.

3. It doesn't sound like Pawlenty will fade into the masses though either. He's been serving as head of a banking industry lobbying group (and is quite well-compensated), and told Fox Business host Neil Cavuto he's "very interested in public service and service for the common good," adding: "There are a lot of different ways to do that."

What Else You Should Know

As Cavuto pointed out in the clip, Pawlenty is a big Republican name

He ran for president in 2012, though dropped out of the race – but was then vetted as a possible vice presidential pick by Mitt Romney's campaign (which gave Pawlenty the code name of 'Lakefish"). In 2015 he declared himself politically retired.

For a party looking to flip a blue Senate seat red, it made sense to consider a face such as Pawlenty. And in December, MPR reported he was "reflecting" on the idea.

But as he made clear Tuesday, he's a no.

"If anybody is going to run for the United States Senate this November, that's now only ... 10 months away. And it's going to be a very competitive race in a tough state for a Republican. So you'd have to start very soon," Pawlenty said.

So who will run on the ballot in 2018, for the chance to serve through early 2021 and finish out Franken's term?


Michele Bachmann explains why she's open to running for Senate in 2018

Only two candidates have actually declared.

(Note: A third candidate, Republican Christopher Chamberlain, had previously announced a Senate campaign – but on Jan. 8 decided to instead run for the U.S. House.)

Beyond that, there's a laundry list of possibilities on both side.

Next Up

PAMP travail 1

Pig Ate My Pizza will close at the end of the year.

Its leaders plan to relaunch and "get back to the humble beginnings of Travail."

flickr - criticla care nurses nov 2021

Allina parts ways with 53 of 27,000 employees over vaccine mandate

That's about 0.2% of the health care system's workforce.

US Bank Stadium, Vikings fans

Matthew Coller: How will Vikings fans react on Thursday night?

Will years of disappointment be revealed if the Vikings struggle against the Steelers?

dinner party holidays gathering celebration 1

Health officials encourage getting vaccinated and tested before the holidays

The state has launched a "Celebrate Safely, Minnesota" campaign to make it easier to get tested and vaccinated.

Kjellberg booking photo crop

Charges: Parking dispute, scuffle preceded fatal stabbing

The suspect said he was upset about neighbors and their friends regularly parking on his property.

Dave Hutchinson

Hennepin Co. Sheriff injured in rollover, admits to drinking beforehand

The sheriff, in a statement, called it an "inexcusable decision."

CDC - vaccine band aid

COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in MN dominated by unvaccinated

The latest figures from October show a disproportionate number of deaths among the unvaccinated.

Jaxon Howard

Top MN football recruit Jaxon Howard to announce college decision

He's the son of former Minnesota Viking Willie Howard.

18 wheeler - tractor trailer - semi truck

MN trucking firm that used 'strength tests' to screen out women drivers to pay $500K

The company will pay $500,000 and offer jobs to the women it discriminated against.

mpd suspect 12.3.21 - 1 - CROP

On-the-run man charged with murder in fatal shooting at gas station

The suspect hasn't been arrested, and court documents say he poses a risk to public safety.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, December 8

The latest details from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Screen Shot 2021-12-05 at 9.27.07 AM

Couple ending festive lights display after dispute with sheriff over trespassing

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald addressed complaints from over the summer on Facebook Saturday.


Michele Bachmann says she's open to running for Al Franken's Senate seat in 2018

The former U.S. rep discussed whether she might run for the U.S. Senate in 2018.

Tim Pawlenty won't seek endorsement at GOP convention

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

Stewart Mills III, worried about Republican leadership, won't run in 2018

No matter his hair length, he isn't planning to run again in 2018 – here's why.

2020: Will Amy Klobuchar run for president?

First it was Al Franken with the 2020 buzz. Now it's the other Minnesota senator's turn.

What the heck is going on with that big tax bill Senate Republicans have been talking about?

It looked like Senate Republicans would be able to pass it – then things hit a bump Thursday.

Al Franken says he won't be running for president in 2020

The Minnesota senator has been touted recently as a possible Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2020.

What Minnesota's U.S. lawmakers have said about Trump's immigration order

What Minnesota' U.S. lawmakers have said about Donald Trump's executive order restricting travel and refugees.