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Paulsen won’t run for Senate or governor, will seek re-election to U.S. House

WASHINGTON — Paulsen will run for re-election to his 3rd District seat instead.

WASHINGTON — Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen will not challenge Minnesota Sen. Al Franken or Gov. Mark Dayton next year, opting instead to run for re-election to his House seat.

Paulsen announced the news in a statement from his campaign. Paulsen said:

After thinking carefully about how I can best help my fellow Minnesotans, I have decided to not seek election for a different office in 2014. If the people of the Third Congressional District will allow me, I hope to continue my work in the U.S. House of Representatives, where I can be most effective, in the years ahead.

The warm encouragement from many people to run for U.S. senator or the governorship was deeply humbling. However, it is clear to me that the House is currently where I can best represent the people of my district and state. I have never run for office to be someone. Rather I have wanted to do good things.

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Paulsen had been considered a potential challenger to either Franken or Dayton, though he had given off mixed messages about running in the past, telling both Minnesota Public Radio and, reportedly, a group of University of Minnesota fellows that he would not run. He and his staff walked back both statements, and before today, Paulsen had otherwise left the door open to a statewide campaign.

Rep. John Kline has also turned down potential challenges to Franken or Dayton. Franken is still without an opponent, though businessman Mike McFadden is said to be prepping to run against him. Two Republicans — Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and businessman Scott Honour — have announced campaigns against Dayton.

Paulsen opens his re-election campaign as a clear favorite. He’s won each of his last two campaigns by double-digit margins, topping 58 percent of the vote each time. In April, he had more than $940,000 in the bank for a re-election run.

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