WASHINGTON, D.C. — As expected, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty at the Capitol in St. Paul announced this afternoon that he will not run for a third term.
His announcement caused a bit of a stir today here and in national media outlets, given Minnesota’s still-undecided Senate race and last year’s wide speculation that Pawlenty was on GOP presidential nominee John McCain’s short list for running mates.
Here’s some of the early reaction from national political sites on the web:
The New York Times says: “That decision signals that Mr. Pawlenty is strongly considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.”
The Washington Post arrives at the same conclusion, citing a difficult economy and “Pawlenty’s near-death political experience in 2006 when he won 51 percent to 47 percent in a three-way race” as important factors in his decision. (Note: The race was actually tighter than that, with Pawlenty winning by less than 1 percentage point, 46.69 percent to 45.73 percent.)
Politico, meanwhile, points out that while he has now cleared the way for 2012, he has yet to start constructing an official bid. “Pawlenty has yet to build the infrastructure — money, a PAC, a staff — of a national operation, but there’s still time,” reports Politico.
The Atlantic waxes poetic about Pawlenty’s “personal charm” and “mullet haircut.”
CBS and others speculate on how this new turn of events may affect Pawlenty’s decision to sign an election certificate if the state Supreme Court declares Democrat Al Franken the winner.