Depending on who you talk to, Rep. Erik Paulsen may or may not be running for a Minnesota Senate seat in 2014 — or even the governorship.
“Representative Paulsen is solely focused on representing the Third District, but has not ruled anything out related to 2014,” Paulsen campaign manager John-Paul Yates wrote in an email to Politico
But Minnesota Public Radio and MinnPost.com reported that Paulsen told University of Minnesota political science students earlier in the day that he is not running.
Therein lies the confusion.
Larry Jacobs, the director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the university’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute, told Politico that Paulsen told students that “someone else is going to have to run” against Democratic Sen. Al Franken next year.
In response to the statement issued by Yates, Jacobs said Paulsen left no doubt about his decision not to run.
“He’s obviously trying to have it both ways,” Jacobs said.
“It wasn’t just a flippant answer. He closed the door, and then he basically provided an explanation for why he closed the door.”
Jacobs said Paulsen based his decision to remain in Congress on his belief that the only way a Republican can win a statewide election in Minnesota is with the inclusion of a strong third-party candidate.
He reminded those in attendance that a Republican has not been elected to a statewide constitutional office with a clear majority since Gov. Arne Carlson’s re-election in 1994.
Tim Pawlenty only won with pluralities.
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