WASHINGTON - Minnesota Republicans appear to have definitely lost U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen as a candidate to take on DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken in 2014 (see update below).
Paulsen's name has long been floated as a candidate. In January, he told MPR News he was not interested in running. Shortly afterward, he told The Hill newspaper that he hadn't ruled out challenging Franken.
Now Paulsen has ruled out a run again, this time telling University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs he planned to continue representing his suburban Twin Cities district rather than mounting a Senate campaign.
Jacobs was in Washington with a group of public policy students meeting with various elected officials. When the group met with Paulsen, Jacobs asked him about his political plans at the start of a meeting.
"He said he's devoted to serving his district and isn't running for Senate," said Jacobs in a brief phone interview.
The students also asked Paulsen about his intentions and again he said he was not a candidate for Senate.
Jacobs tweeted out the news not long afterward (although he misspelled Paulsen's name in the tweet).
#policyfellows Rep. Paulson: not running for US Senate against Franken. Devoted to District
— Larry Jacobs (@larryrjacobs) February 6, 2013
Paulsen's campaign manager John-Paul Yates writes to add another twist in this tale. He says, "Representative Paulsen is solely focused on representing the Third District, but has not ruled anything out related to 2014."