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Paulsen says nothing is off the table for 2014

After Paulsen was said to tell a groupoof U fellows he won’t challenge Al Franken in 2014, he said Friday nothing is off the table.

Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen said Friday he hasn’t ruled out running for statewide office in 2014.

On Wednesday, University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs said Paulsen told a group of U fellows that he would not challenge Sen. Al Franken next year, but Paulsen’s staff later said he’s yet to make up his mind.

In St. Paul on Friday morning, Paulsen told reporters he hasn’t considered what he’ll do in 2014, but didn’t rule out running for Senate or challenging DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, who’s also up for re-election next year.

“I’ve just been solely focused on doing my work and representing my district,” he said. “I haven’t even given it that much thought at all.”

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Paulsen said he expected Franken’s challenger to run a competitive race, despite hurdles Minnesota Republicans have encountered in the last few statewide races.

“Running statewide as a Republican in Minnesota is always a challenge,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a lot of candidates come forward sometime down the road. … Whoever ends up being our nominee will end up raising quite a bit of funds. Those races will be competitive.”

As to Jacob’s characterization of his statements, Paulsen said, “I can’t comment on how he interprets my comments. My comments are the same as we just had now.”

(h/t James Nord)

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.