Anyone who thinks former Gov. Tim Pawlenty is a done deal for getting in the 2018 U.S. Senate race to take on soon-to-be Sen. Tina Smith is mistaken, a GOP source said last week.
“He’s a fanatic about data. You look hard at it, and everything would have to go right,” said the GOP operative. The data website FiveThirtyEight averages polls of the so-called generic ballot, asking Americans which party should control Congress. Democrats currently have a 12-point advantage.
When the president’s approval rating is less than 50 percent, his party has lost an average of about 36 House seats since 1946, according to Gallup.
If anything, Pawlenty continues to look at the governor’s race, which would let him return to a job he loved.
Even without Pawlenty in the Senate race, Republicans gained a credible candidate last week in state Sen. Karin Housley. She’s a suburban woman with her own small business, author of a book and married to an NHL coach.
It’s possible Republicans could be running two suburban women at the top of their ticket if Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens prevails on the GOP side in the governor’s race. This could be shrewd: As right-leaning analyst Josh Kraushaar argues in the National Journal, 2018 is shaping up to be about voters rejecting (or not) President Donald Trump’s behavior and character as a statement of their own values: “The wind driving the emerging political wave has nothing to do with economic policy. It’s been whipped up by antipathy to Trump and his chaotic conduct in office.”
These two women are positioned to create space between themselves and Trump. As Giuliani Stephens put it when asked about Trump, “I wasn’t raised that way.”
Still, Republicans remain concerned about the lack of top-tier talent in the big races thus far. Sen. Amy Klobuchar continues to look like a juggernaut for re-election. Only state Rep. Jim Newberger, an underfunded conservative from Becker, stands in Klobuchar’s way as she seeks to improve on a 2012 performance that saw her lose in just two counties.
The GOP operative fears that weakness at the top of the ticket could trickle down to the state House, where the DFL would need 11 pickups to grab the speaker’s gavel.
Miller drops out
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson is looking pretty safe at the moment, as state GOP Rep. Tim Miller suspended his congressional campaign last week. The campaign would need “stronger fundraising and greater state and national traction than I’ve been able to generate,” Miller wrote.