Pawlenty laughs at Johnson's call for him to stop campaign

Johnson won party endorsement for governor; Pawlenty did not participate

The Morning News with Dave Lee
June 05, 2018 - 6:23 am
Tim Pawlenty

© MCT-USA Today Images.


Republican endorsed candidate for Minnesota governor Jeff Johnson is calling on Tim Pawlenty to drop out of the race.

Pawlenty laughed at the suggestion.

"You know, Jeff is thrashing about," Pawlenty told Dave Lee on the WCCO Morning News, trying to stifle a chuckle or two. "I like Jeff. I'm not trying to get into a big inter-party fight. The after the primary, we're going to have to unite, and that's going to be hard to do if everybody is whacking on each other."

Johnson, who is a Hennepin County Commissioner, won the GOP endorsement during the party convention in Duluth on June 2.

Pawlenty did not take part in the convention, and has always said he'd have his name on the August 14 primary ballot. The former two-term Minnesota governor staged a campaign fly-around on Monday.

Here is Johnson's statement, which was released by his campaign early Tuesday morning:

With a united Republican party in the best position to win the governor’s office in many years, it’s time for Tim Pawlenty to do what’s best for Minnesota and the conservative cause and end his primary campaign for governor.

When Tim got in the race, he claimed it was because no other Republican was “catching fire.” This weekend, however, I won the endorsement of the most active and engaged Republicans in Minnesota by acclamation - despite aggressive work by Pawlenty’s team to force a vote of “no endorsement.”

Republicans left our convention on Saturday more energized and united than I have ever seen - even more so than in 2002 when many of us stayed up all night to endorse Tim.

We’ve been presented a unique opportunity and right now have a clearer path to the governorship than we’ve had in decades. The DFL is in complete disarray and grassroots Republicans are united around a candidate who can appeal to every faction of the party, including the new voters Trump brought out in 2016. We can spend the entire summer presenting a united front against the Democrats, or Tim Pawlenty can force a primary, divide the party even further than he already has and greatly weaken our chance of winning in November. If this is really about winning and not about one person, Tim will look at the big picture and step aside.

"I don't think Pawlenty is going to step aside," said WCCO political analyst Blois Olson. "I think it goes to show that Johnson is willing to escalate this race."

Tuesday is the deadline for candidates to file for the primary election.



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