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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?

Related: 

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.

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