UPDATE: Minnesota Republicans are going to have to go back to the drawing board to find someone to challenge Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar in next year's election.
Tim Pawlenty ruled out a possible run Wednesday, ending speculation that the former governor would quickly pivot from his failed bid for the GOP presidential nomination to campaign to win a Senate seat in 2012.
"I don't know what I will be doing next," Pawlenty said in an email to the Associated Press. "However, I will not be running against Amy in 2012."
State party leaders had hoped that Pawlenty would change his mind about running for Senate after dropping out of the race for the White House. The only current Republican contender in line to challenge the widely popular Klobuchar is former state Rep. Dan Severson, who was the GOP's unsuccessful nominee for secretary of state last year.
POST Monday at 12:51 p.m.: What’s next for Tim Pawlenty?
A top Republican powerbroker in his home state of Minnesota wasted little time building buzz about a possible T-Paw campaign to unseat one of the state’s two Democratic senators.
"Like my mom always used to say, things always work out for the best in the end, and maybe this is an opportunity for Minnesota," Tony Sutton, chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party, told Minnesota Public Radio Monday.
Sutton hasn’t actually spoken with Pawlenty since he called it quits after a disappointing showing in the Iowa straw poll over the weekend, but GOP chairman says that he expects the former governor to get back in game soon, possibly with a 2012 challenge to Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Pawlenty has previously said he wasn’t interested in Klobuchar’s seat – although given he was campaigning for president at the time, that would have obviously sent some mixed messages to the electorate.
"If you asked him today he'd probably say he wasn't thinking about it,” Sutton said Monday. “But hopefully in the days and weeks ahead, and as he has time to decompress from this campaign, he'll have time to think about his future, and I think his future's bright.”
Still, given Klobuchar’s relative popularity in the state, Pawlenty may have a better chance if he waits until 2014 to challenge Sen. Al Franken, who won his 2008 election only after a mandatory statewide recount to settle an incredibly close race versus Republican Norm Coleman.