Tim Pawlenty — who briefly ran for president in 2012 and had derided President Trump as “unhinged” — was denied in his effort to stage a political comeback and become Minnesota’s governor again in the race to replace Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
County Commissioner Jeff Johnson won in Tuesday’s Minnesota GOP gubernatorial primary despite Pawlenty’s enormous fundraising and name recognition advantages. He also won despite his own history as the party’s losing candidate for governor four years ago.
Pawlenty joins several other prominent Republicans — including Reps. Martha Roby and Mark Sanford, as well as Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker — who have recently suffered major political consequences, at least in part, for opposing Trump.
Johnson had positioned himself as a more conservative candidate than Pawlenty. He branded the former two-term governor as part of the “status quo” and bashed him for calling Trump “unhinged and unfit for the presidency” in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election — rhetoric that Pawlenty softened during the campaign.
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