EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he plans to skip next month’s Republican state convention and go straight to the August primary.

Pawlenty’s move means he won’t seek the party endorsement. In a statement Tuesday, his campaign says the two-term governor entered the race too late for to have a “fair fight” for the endorsement.

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson is seen as the front-runner for endorsement, which brings party support and money.

Pawlenty says he’ll make his case to voters in the Aug. 14 primary instead.

Pawlenty entered the race for his old seat last month.

Johnson released this statement on the matter Tuesday afternoon:

Tim claims to be the “A Team” and the only strong Republican in the race, but a strong candidate would be able to win the support of the most active Republicans in MN. If he can’t even compete for the support of his base, he’ll be a disaster in the General Election. Minnesotans are not interested in a business-as-usual establishment politician; they want someone who will fundamentally change a broken and arrogant government. I will continue working hard toward earning votes, winning the Endorsement and rallying the Republican Party behind me.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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