By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Speculation continues to surround former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s expected announcement that he will be running for Minnesota governor.

With just over two months until the nominating convention the GOP field has been left hanging and key GOP donors and activists are staying on the sidelines.

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Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he will make an official announcement about whether he will run for governor sometime soon. But it sure looks like he is running, with campaign-like appearances around the metro, a campaign committee and even a pitch on his website to support and donate to Pawlenty for Governor. But the fact that he has not made it official makes it tough for candidates who are already in the race.

In the GOP caucus straw poll last month Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson dominated winning 45 percent of the vote. But Johnson is stuck waiting for Pawlenty too — even putting out a campaign video in which he says if Pawlenty enters the race the election would be a referendum on the former governor.

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Commissioner Johnson was a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning.

“Tim, if he is in the race, if he is our candidate he will be talking about the future I am sure. But the issues will be about his eight years as governor and his five years as a lobbyist and his comments about Donald Trump and it will be a referendum on him and I don’t think we win if it is about the past,” Johnson said.

In 2014 Johnson was the GOP nominee for governor and lost to Gov. Mark Dayton by six percentage points.  Tim Pawlenty is the last Republican to win any statewide office in Minnesota. He was elected governor in 2002 and 2006.

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You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning every Sunday with Esme Murphy and Mike Augustyniak at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Esme Murphy