Pawlenty picks Michelle Fischbach as running mate

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Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty introduced Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach as his running mate on Thursday, May 31. Briana Bierschbach | MPR News

Republican Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach is running  for a job she already has — just with a different governor.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced Thursday morning that Fischbach has joined his campaign for governor as his running mate. The news comes just one week after she resigned from her central Minnesota Senate district and took the oath of office to serve as lieutenant governor alongside DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.

"I’ve had a big adventure the last few months," Fischbach said Thursday. "Something I didn't expect, something I didn't anticipate, but now I'm very excited to be running for lieutenant governor."

In January, Dayton appointed former Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to an opening in the U.S. Senate, leaving a vacancy in her office. That meant Fischbach, who was serving as president of the Senate, automatically ascended to the vacant spot of lieutenant governor. But she argued in court that she could serve in the Senate and executive branch at the same time. That case was set for a hearing this month, but it was dropped after she resigned from her Senate seat last week. Fischbach told Dayton Thursday morning that she plans to run with Pawlenty this fall.

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As a former governor and current lieutenant governor, Pawlenty said they would both bring "experience" to the executive branch.

"We are going to be able to tackle some of these things in a way that will actually get them done," he said. "This level of experience that we bring forward ... will allow us to be a can do, get things done team."

Before her resignation, Fischbach had been in the Senate since 1996 and served two terms as the chamber’s president, becoming the first woman to ever hold that job. Fischbach's relationships in the Legislature was part of the reason Pawlenty said she would make a good lieutenant governor from "day one."

"She has a reservoir of good will across the entire Legislature that would, from day one, serve us well as we try to interact with the Legislature and try and get things done," he said.

As lieutenant governor, Fischbach said she would want to continue working on issues she took on in the Legislature, including elder care, higher education and working with law enforcement and paramedics.

Pawlenty announced his pick just one day before Republicans gather in Duluth for their state party convention. He doesn't plan to seek the party's endorsement over the weekend, but Fischbach said she hopes activists take away that "this is the ticket that is the winning team."