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Tim Pawlenty Ad Blasts GOP Opponent Jeff Johnson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota's Republican race for Governor got a lot more heated Thursday, with former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty unleashing a blistering attack ad on fellow Republican Jeff Johnson.

Right out of the gate, Pawlenty's bare-knuckled attack on fellow Republican Jeff Johnson came, accusing Johnson of political hypocrisy on spending, taxes, and President Donald Trump.

"Who is Jeff Johnson? He's a career politician who taxes and spends, a lot," the ad claims. "Higher taxes, wasteful spending, supporting Obamacare. That's the real Jeff Johnson."

Pawlenty's ad accuses Johnson of proposing property tax hikes, supporting a sales tax hike and of spending millions of dollars on Obamacare.

Johnson, a longtime conservative, says the ad cherry picks from thousands of votes and called it "preposterous."

"It is possibly the most dishonest ad I have ever seen. And I can tell you if somebody in my campaign came to me with an ad about Tim Pawlenty that was that dishonest, I would fire them," Johnson said.

The Pawlenty campaign also released a blistering campaign memo questioning Johnson's loyalty to president Trump, reminding voters Johnson once called Trump a "jack***."

A senior Pawlenty adviser says voters need to see what he calls "the real Jeff Johnson."

"It looks like Jeff Johnson has been itching for a fight. He's been attacking Tim Pawlenty on a variety of things for months," Pawlenty staffer Brian McClung said. "So now we want to make sure that voters know the truth about Jeff Johnson's record. And it is not record that he is purported to have."

It's unusual to see campaign ads this early, this tough, and this personal. It could mean the race is closer that Pawlenty thought it would be, or he's not taking any chances.

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