Tim Pawlenty is stepping down as the leader of the Financial Services Roundtable, the industry group announced on Tuesday, as speculation grows about his possible entry into the Minnesota governor’s race.
Pawlenty, a Republican who was named CEO of the trade association in 2012, will continue in the post until March.
"FSR is now poised to provide even more focused and effective service for our members going forward,” Pawlenty said in a statement. “Over the past 5 years, I have enjoyed leading FSR's efforts to improve cybersecurity, retirement savings, consumer-friendly financial service technology, and financial literacy.”
As CEO, Pawlenty earned more than $2.6 million in salary and bonuses in 2015, according to the most recent tax forms available.
The Financial Services Roundtable recently underwent a massive overhaul, in which it purged its nonbank and smaller members, saving only banks with at least $25 billion in assets and payment companies like MasterCard and Visa. The move cut its membership roughly in half.
It had initially been rumored that Pawlenty was eyeing a run for the Senate seat left open when Democratic Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenFranken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Al Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' Andrew Cuomo and the death of shame MORE (Minn.) stepped down, but he swatted down the idea.
Now reports indicate that he is talking with advisers about making another run for governor, a position he held from 2003 to 2011. At that time, he declined to seek a third term.
Last week, a former top aide to Pawlenty, Brian McClung, told Fox News that he is seeking more input.
"Gov. Pawlenty is considering running for governor and will be talking with Minnesotans over the coming weeks to assess support and gather advice," he said, according to Fox.
Pawlenty has scheduled meetings with donors to gauge the level of support and see if he can secure contribution commitments, according to multiple reports. Minnesota Public Radio first reported the Feb. 12 meeting with donors.
“Tim will be really missed, but we are thankful for his effective and collegial leadership on behalf of the financial services industry which helps finance America's economy and provide the financial infrastructure that every consumer uses every day,” said Brian Moynihan, the chairman of the association’s board and CEO of Bank of America.
Pawlenty flirted with a bid for the White House, from May to August in 2011, but dropped out amid poor polling. He later became co-chair of the 2012 presidential campaign of the Republican nominee, Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump-backed bills on election audits, illegal voting penalties expected to die in Texas legislature The Memo: Conservatives change their tune on big government Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals MORE, leaving shortly before the election to take the Financial Services Roundtable role.