MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Republican primary voters rejected Tim Pawlenty’s comeback bid, effectively ending his political career.
And Democrats picked a candidate they think will keep the governor’s office in DFL hands.
Underdog Jeff Johnson outworked his Republican challenger with a combination of a superior ground game and a boost from Minnesota supporters of President Donald Trump.
The president on Wednesday tweeted his support for Johnson, thanking him “for all the support you showed me” and giving him a trademark Trump “complete and total endorsement.”
Johnson says voters will judge him on his ideas, not the president’s.
“There are some people who will vote for me solely because I support the president, and some who won’t vote for me solely because I support the president,” he said. “There’s frankly not much I can do on either of those edges. But I think there’s a vast majority of Minnesotans who are somewhere in the middle of that.”
Tim Walz came out the winner of a raucous three-way DFL governor primary.
He’s promising a civil campaign, but says Democrats won’t back down from Minnesota Republicans who use what he says will be Trump’s “playbook.”
“People come up to me and they turn on the TV or the see tweets, they tell me they see this divisiveness. They worry about the future,” Walz said. “Minnesotans don’t worry about the future. They roll up their sleeves and they create the future they want to see. And last night was the first step in doing that.”
All of this sets up a classic Minnesota campaign with two very different Republican and Democratic candidates.
But what happens to Pawlenty now?
The primary defeat was a crushing loss for the former governor, who came into this race with millions of dollars and sky high name recognition.
However, he ran a Trump-like anti-immigrant campaign that did not fit Pawlenty’s image, which he acknowledged in his concession speech.
“People are going to ask me, What do you see in this result?” Pawlenty said. “The circumstances that we line in, in a different kind of leadership in terms ofPpresident Trump and the like, I just don’t fit well in that era, into that picture.”
Pawlenty told WCCO-TV that he is out of politics — for good.