Ex-Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he's still weighing a jump into the 2018 governor's race. But he also acknowledged that it's still "an uphill climb" for Republican to win statewide office in Minnesota.
"I'm still actively considering it and should have some further announcements and decisions about all of that in the coming weeks," Pawlenty said in an impromptu interview with MPR News Tuesday at the state Capitol.
Asked about the factors he's weighing in deciding, he said there were many things to think about.
"This is a state that I love, but it does tend towards the blue (Democrat) side of things and I'm a Republican, and so that's an uphill climb for any Republican candidate who might choose to run in a statewide race," he said.
Pawlenty, the last Republican to win statewide office in Minnesota, has been signaling interest in a run for governor to replace retiring DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. He recently convened a group of Republican donors and insiders to seek advice about entering a governor's race without a clear favorite.
He also announced plans recently to step down next month as CEO of a Washington-based financial services association, a sign he may be moving ahead on a political comeback in Minnesota.
Asked about whether having a Republican-led Legislature — something Minnesota has now that Pawlenty did not have when he was governor — would influence his decision, he said, "Anybody who's running for governor or statewide office wants to get things done. Having a Legislature that would be able to share those kinds of priorities would be valuable" for any leader.
Overall, though, he said he's still actively exploring a bid but "I haven't made any final decisions yet."