After failed 2012 bid, Pawlenty fans look to Senate

Former Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Former Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

It's only been a day since former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced his withdrawal from the 2012 presidential race - but his supporters are already talking about his possible return to politics.

In the Minnesota Star Tribune on Monday, several Pawlenty friends pushed the possibility - however far-off - that the former governor might run for Senate in the relatively near future.

"I don't think Minnesotans have heard the last of him. He'll live to fight another day. When that happens, his supporters will be right back there with him again," said Peter Glessing, a former Minnesota House staffer who helped the Pawlenty campaign in Iowa over the weekend, according to the the Star Tribune.

And Minnesota Republican party chair Tony Sutton, said he hoped Pawlenty might consider a 2012 Senate bid.

"I'd still like him to consider running for the U.S. Senate in 2012," Sutton told the Star Tribune.

So far, it appears this talk is just wishful thinking on the part of Pawlenty supporters: the former governor has flatly dismissed a 2012 Senate bid, and has said multiple times since his withdrawal from the race that his plans for the future are unclear.

"I won't be running against Klobuchar in 2012," he told the Star Tribune in Iowa over the weekend, referencing Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who is up for re-election in 2012. Were he to run in 2014, he would face off against Democratic Sen. Al Franken, who took office following a contentious, months-long recount battle after the 2008 election.

In an interview with ABC on Sunday, Pawlenty said he doesn't know "what the future holds for me" and that he has "no plans" yet.

"Well, what's next, I'm going to take my daughter to college over the next few days. And then I really don't know what the future holds for me. I have absolutely no plans, which is at the same time very liberating, but also a little concerning, so I've got to get to work," he said.

In a statement on Monday, Pawlenty added that while he remains "committed to turning this country around," he had nothing concrete of which to speak.

"We will be taking time to prayerfully consider what is next," he said, of himself and his wife Mary. "One thing is for sure, I remain committed to turning this country around, getting a Republican elected to the White House and advancing the values we share in common and hold so dear."