Thissen Drops Out as Walz, Johnson Win Caucus Straw Polls

Tim Pawlenty is leaving Financial Services Roundtable next month.

Zach C. Cohen
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Zach C. Cohen
Feb. 7, 2018, 11:05 a.m.

Rep. Tim Walz (D) and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (R) “were the big winners in straw polls for governor at Minnesota precinct caucuses Tuesday night. … Caucus-goers are not bound to the candidates they vote for. … Straw polls have not been accurate at predicting who will be endorsed at state party conventions later in the season.”

“In the Democratic-Farmer-Labor balloting, Walz … led the crowded pack with 31 percent of the votes with two-thirds the precincts reporting. State Auditor Rebecca Otto (D) was in second place with 20 percent, followed by state Rep. Erin Murphy (D) with 13 percent and former St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (D) at 12 percent.”

“With all precincts reporting, Johnson … had 45 percent of the vote, followed by undecided voters with 16 percent. Former state GOP Chairman Keith Downey was in third place with 15 percent, followed by school teacher Phillip Parrish (R) and Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens (R) tied with 12 percent each.”

“With half of precincts reporting, 17,655 DFLers had caucused. That was on pace to surpass DFL caucus turnout of 22,532 in 2010, the last time there was an open seat for governor. … About 11,000 Republicans cast votes in their party’s straw poll. That was far fewer than the nearly 20,000 who turned out for the 2010 GOP caucuses.” (Twin Cities Pioneer Press)

State Rep. Paul Thissen (D), a former state House speaker, dropped out of the race following his poor performance in the caucuses. Thissen: “I’ve done my best to do all I could with that opportunity. But I know from experience that so much of life is not just working hard, but being in the right place at the right time. Now is not the right time for my campaign for Governor.” (MinnPost)

WHAT COMES NEXT. Financial Services Roundtable announced Tuesday that former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) will step down as the lobbying group’s CEO in March. (release)

A Republican source said Pawlenty has “had discussions with” the RGA. (Hotline reporting)

“If he enters the race this year, his high name recognition and fundraising potential would put him in position to bypass the state convention entirely and run in the August primary. But that would also risk an intraparty fight, with Pawlenty possibly alienating GOP activists who still value the party’s endorsement. While Pawlenty would bring some outsize assets, he’d also bring some large vulnerabilities. He hasn’t been on a Minnesota ballot in more than a decade, and he never surpassed 50 percent of the vote in either of his victories. He was generally critical of President Donald Trump as a candidate in 2016, and his recent work lobbying for financial interests would give the DFL and its allies a ripe target for criticism.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT. Walz released endorsements from 80 “state representatives and senators, school board members, city councilors, mayors, county commissioners, and DFL party leaders.” (release)

“Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter and Retired Saint Paul Police Sergeant Melvin Carter, Jr. … endorsed” Coleman. State Rep. Ilhan Omar backed Murphy.

Johnson releaseed a list of statewide supporters, and talks about being ‘unified’, a clear counter to Downey’s effort to try to crack Johnson’s previously strong support from statewide activists.”

Coleman is running a digital ad touting his record as a “consistent progressive.” (Morning Take)

Murphy “said the national attention Minnesota received for hosting Super Bowl LII Sunday was a ‘beautiful thing.’ But she voted against the legislation that built U.S. Bank Stadium and still believes the public cost was too high.” State Rep. Paul Thissen (D) “said the Super Bowl was great for Minneapolis and he stands by his support of the $500 million taxpayer subsidy that built U.S. Bank Stadium. Thissen said the stadium makes it a competitive, world class city.” (MPR)

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