Pawlenty loses comeback bid in Minnesota

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Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) failed on Tuesday in his comeback bid for a third term, as state Republicans chose Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (R) as their nominee to replace the state’s term-limited governor.
With 68 percent of precincts reporting, Johnson was projected the winner by The Associated Press with 53 percent of the vote compared to Pawlenty’s 44 percent. 
{mosads}The Republican primary became unexpectedly contested in the final weeks before voters headed to the polls. 
Johnson, who was the party’s nominee for governor in 2014, cast himself as President Trump’s ideological compatriot.
Pawlenty distanced himself from then-candidate Trump after the “Access Hollywood” tape came out in October 2016, something Johnson used as a centerpiece of one of his most heavily run advertisements.
In a debate earlier this month, Pawlenty said his rescinded endorsement came after he had voted for Trump by absentee ballot. He accused Johnson of calling Trump a “jackass.”
“President Trump was a jackass until he became your hero,” Pawlenty told Johnson.
“I supported him,” Johnson shot back. “You told people not to vote for him.”
The race was Pawlenty’s first contest since 2012, when he briefly ran for the Republican presidential nomination. That year, he finished third in the Iowa straw poll, a disappointing finish behind conservative front-runners.
He ended his presidential bid about a month later after running short of campaign cash.
Johnson will face Rep. Tim Walz (D), the winner of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party nomination, in November in the race to replace Gov. Mark Dayton (D).
Walz, who represents an exurban and rural district along the state’s border with Iowa, outlasted state Rep. Erin Murphy (D), who had won the party’s official endorsement earlier this year.
With 71 percent of precincts reporting, Walz led Murphy 43 percent to 33 percent. Attorney General Lori Swanson (D) finished in a distant third place.
Walz is likely to begin as the front-runner ahead of the November midterms. The only public survey that tested the two nominees against each other, conducted by Emerson last week, showed Walz leading Johnson by a 40 percent to 33 percent margin. 
Tags Donald Trump Tim Walz
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