Ex-GOP chair Downey exits Minnesota governor's race

Keith Downey
Chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota Keith Downey addresses a crowd in Bloomington, Minn. in 2013.
Glen Stubbe | The Star Tribune via AP 2013

Former Minnesota Republican Party Chair Keith Downey ended his race for governor on Wednesday, saying that while he still believed in his message, "the opportunity for me to win in November has closed."

His announcement came a day after campaign finance reports showed ex-Gov. Tim Pawlenty with a massive fundraising lead over Downey and other GOP contenders.

Downey jumped into the race last summer, vowing to be a results-driven governor if elected.

In October, he called for using public money to finance private school vouchers. He also said he would shutter public schools with performance problems.

But Tuesday's release of campaign finance reports from the first three months of the year showing Pawlenty's domination also showed Downey toward the back of the fundraising pack.

In his statement Wednesday withdrawing from the race, Downey acknowledged Pawlenty's recent, official entry into the race had changed the dynamics dramatically.

"I have fought hard, not because I dislike or disrespect my Republican opponents, but because we need to be stronger if we are to win elections and then govern according to our convictions," Downey said.