Baird Helgeson and Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

Minnesota Republican Party chairman Tony Sutton has formed a new partnership with the Public Affairs Company.

Sutton will embark on a joint venture with Public Affairs, a government relations company.

The news release added to the political swirl over whether Sutton will run for re-election, saying that he “served” as party chairman.

In an interview, Sutton said he would make an announcement on whether he plans to run again next week.

Sutton has stepped down as CEO of Baja Sol Restaurant Group, a fast-casual Mexican chain restaurant co-owned by Republican donor Bill Cooper.

He said he had been transitioning out of the restaurant business for a while.

"My wife, Bridget, runs the company on a day to day basis," Sutton said. Bridget Sutton is president of the Baja Sol company.

He said that 2010 was a "tough year for the restaurant business" but it is "doing fine" and is moving back into growth mode.

Sutton has been praised for orchestrating Republicans’ resounding legislative wins in the last election that allowed the GOP to take control of both bodies for the first time in 40 years. Republican candidate Tom Emmer narrowly lost to DFLer Mark Dayton.

Public Affairs Company, in its eleventh year of business in Minnesota, specializes in grassroots advocacy and media relations.

“We have been meeting the needs of our clients for more than a decade. Large or small we have organized grassroots campaigns, handled media relations, and helped dozens of clients navigate challenging political landscapes,” Public Affairs Company CEO Steve Knuth said in a release. “We are excited to be working with Tony Sutton, a seasoned political operative who will bring his knowledge, enthusiasm and wide range of contacts to the Public Affairs Company team.”

Sutton said it would be possible to handle the new partnership along with the chairmanship.

"I would personally avoid any business that would present a conflict," Sutton said in an interview. He said he wouldn't necessarily avoid having any clients that do business in Minnesota.

Public Affairs Company has offices in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Washington, DC.

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