MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s lieutenant governor says she will not be seeking the state’s highest office.

Tina Smith, who has been Gov. Mark Dayton’s second in command since 2015, announced on Facebook Friday that she will not run for governor in 2018.

“I never expected nor planned to serve in elected office, but it is my joy and my honor to serve the people of Minnesota,” Smith said.

She formerly served as Gov. Dayton’s chief of staff before taking over the lieutenant governor role for Yvonne Prettner Solon, who retired from office after her first term. Smith also served as chief of staff for former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Three Democrats have announced their gubernatorial candidacies so far: St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, State Rep. Erin Murphy and State Auditor Rebecca Otto.

Christopher Chamberlin is the only Republican running at the moment.

Here is Smith’s full statement:

After careful consideration, and many conversations with family and friends, I have decided not to run for Governor in 2018.

Over the last six years, I have talked to thousands of Minnesotans about what makes Minnesota work, and what we need to do to make it work better. I have never believed as strongly as I do today that Minnesota is the best place in the country to live, with the most creative, decent, hard working and fair-minded people you would ever want to meet. And I also believe, more strongly than ever, that Minnesota has yet to live up to its full potential; that everyone has a chance for opportunity, independence, and the freedom to live their own dreams in their own way.

Making Minnesota work better for people is what drives Governor Mark Dayton, me, and our administration every day. I am proud of what we have accomplished so far – returning balanced budgets and fiscal stability to state government, expanding health care to hundreds of thousands of people, making all-day kindergarten possible for all Minnesota children, expanding and improving early learning, and supporting the entrepreneurs, innovators and talented people who make Minnesota work.

I will continue to work my hardest, every way I know how, to do the job Minnesotans elected me to do. I do this side by side with Governor Dayton, a principled leader who never fails to put people before politics, and we won’t stop until the last hour of our term is complete.

I also will work as hard as I can to elect a Democrat for Governor in 2018, because I believe we have the best ideas for how to create jobs and opportunity for everyone in Minnesota. The most compelling, successful campaigns are about listening, connecting with people, creating unexpected alliances, and building common ground around hope and opportunity for all people. Then we need to organize, organize, organize. This is what I have done my entire professional life, and I have no intention of stopping now.

Many, many thanks to my friends all over the state who have encouraged me to run. I never expected nor planned to serve in elected office, but it is my joy and my honor to serve the people of Minnesota.

[graphiq id=”jF7IMMrGuGx” title=”Minnesota Voter Registration and Turnout” width=”600″ height=”521″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/jF7IMMrGuGx” link=”https://www.graphiq.com/vlp/jF7IMMrGuGx” link_text=”InsideGov | Graphiq” ]

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