With former GOP Governor Tim Pawlenty entering the 2018 gubernatorial race, ratings agencies are moving Minnesota towards the GOP column and are now calling the contest a toss-up.
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has called the Minnesota governor’s race one of the GOP’s “best targets” this November, and on Friday moved Minnesota from “Lean Democrat” to “Toss-Up,” citing Pawlenty’s decision to enter the race. “Pawlenty is a serious enough candidate to move the needle,” said Kyle Kondik, the site’s managing editor.
Crystal Ball joins the Cook Political Report in rating the Minnesota governor’s race as a toss-up.
With Minnesota trending red, numerous competitive congressional races and a top-tier GOP gubernatorial candidate, the Minnesota governor’s race is now a top pick up opportunity for Republicans this November.
CNBC: Republican Tim Pawlenty Announces Run for Minnesota Governor
Republican Tim Pawlenty officially declared his candidacy for Minnesota governor Thursday, making him the latest high-profile business executive to make a push for political office.
CNBC, citing sources with direct knowledge of the matter, reported earlier Thursday that Pawlenty would announce his run in the afternoon.
Pawlenty, who had already served two terms as Minnesota's governor, will be trying to flip a seat that's been held by Democratic incumbent Mark Dayton for the past seven years. Dayton isn't running for a third term. However, Dayton did respond to Pawlenty's candidacy by comparing his legacy to the Republican's.
Immediately after Pawlenty's announcement, nonpartisan elections analysis website Sabato's Crystal Ball changed the status of the Minnesota gubernatorial race from "leans Democratic" to "toss-up."
"Pawlenty is a serious enough candidate to move the needle, at least for now," Kyle Kondik, managing editor for the site, tweeted.
Pawlenty previously was governor of the state from 2003 to 2011. Although he failed to capture the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, he became a co-chairman of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign against then-President Barack Obama