Rep. Paulsen says he won't run for Senate against Al Franken

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) announced Monday he will not challenge Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). 

Paulsen was considered a top recruit for Republicans, but he said in a statement that he would remain in the House. 

"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," Paulsen announced in an email to supporters Monday afternoon. 

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"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," he said.

Paulsen, a centrist who has high personal favorable numbers, was the favorite of many Republicans in Minnesota and nationally to challenge Franken. He follows former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), who also decided not to challenge Franken, the former "Saturday Night Live" star who defeated Coleman in a razor-tight race in 2008.

The decision is also a blow to national Republicans hoping to retake control of the Senate. While Franken hasn't been a top target of the GOP this cycle, the party needs to win six seats to retake control of the Senate and Minnesota's is one of the marginally competitive seats that could allow them to expand the map.