SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- State Rep. Tim Pawlenty returned to his boyhood blue-collar neighborhood Wednesday to open his campaign for governor.
The House majority leader from Eagan became the third Republican to take public steps toward a 2002 gubernatorial bid.
At the Croatian Hall, more than 200 supporters stood by as Pawlenty launched his campaign. He suggested that Gov. Jesse Ventura has no vision.
"The Ventura era has been something of a political Woodstock," Pawlenty said. "My friends, it has been interesting, and it may have involved a symbolic message, but there comes a time, like with Woodstock, to come home, take a shower and get back to the business of making Minnesota a great place to live and work."
Pawlenty to discuss plans Thursday
Rep. Tim Pawlenty, R-Eagan, will conduct a news conference at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Brainerd to discuss his bid for governor in 2002.
Thursday's news conference will be in the conference room at the Brainerd-Crow Wing County Regional Airport.
Eds: SUBS grafs 3-15 pvs to UPDATE with fresh quotes, details; SUBS 6th graf pvs to UPDATE with quote reflecting version delivered sted prepared text; EDITS pvs to conform; PICKS UP last graf: On the ...
State Rep. Tom Workman, R-Chanhassen, sent an e-mail to House Republicans Tuesday suggesting that Pawlenty should step down as majority leader, but not leave the House, if he ran for governor.
But Pawlenty said he plans to keep his job as majority leader. House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said a majority of his caucus members support that decision. It appeared from the large gathering of legislators at the hall that Pawlenty has most Republican state lawmakers on board.
But Pawlenty still called himself the "underdog and outsider." The GOP elite are siding with businessman Brian Sullivan.
"There are some people in the party who have shut doors on me, and now I'm going to kick a few back open," Pawlenty said.
Pawlenty, 40, also planned campaign stops later Wednesday in Rochester, Moorhead and Duluth. He planned to head to Mankato, Alexandria, Brainerd and Bemidji on Thursday.
Pawlenty was the second new face to enter the 2002 GOP gubernatorial campaign in recent days.
St. Louis Park accountant Michael Vekich opened a campaign committee late last week that will allow him to raise money and build a staff as he explores a possible run.
"I believe at this point we're serious about this and we will take the temperature of the people and then come back in the next few weeks and determine what the future looks like," Vekich said Tuesday.
He said people of both major political parties have encouraged him to run.
Vekich, 53, is a trustee on the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system board, and he served as its chairman for four years. He owns an accounting and management firm in the Twin Cities area. He has never held elective office.
The only other Republican with an active campaign is Sullivan, who has been rounding up GOP support and raising money for months. He has never held elective office, either.
Ventura has said he will withhold his decision to run again until the July filing period.
On the DFL side, state Sen. Becky Lourey, state Auditor Judi Dutcher and artist Ole Savior have formed campaign committees. Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, Assistant Senate Majority Leader John Hottinger and trial lawyer Mike Ciresi also are weighing bids.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.