By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of people showed up to caucus with their political parties across the state, where they voted in a straw poll for gubernatorial candidates.

With 66 percent of precincts reporting in the DFL caucuses, Congressman Tim Walz is in the lead with state auditor Rebecca Otto in second and state Rep. Erin Murphy third.

On the Republican side, Hennepin County Commissioner and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson won the straw poll by a landslide with more than 4,000 votes. Keith Downey came in second.

However, these results could change dramatically if Former Governor Tim Pawlenty enters the race. Last month, he ruled out the possibility of running for the senate seat vacated by Al Franken, but he recently resigned his post at a Washington lobbying firm and is reportedly considering another term as governor.

If Pawlenty entered the race, he’d likely be an instant front-runner with name recognition, credibility, and the money needed to run a campaign.

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