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Minnesota GOP Endorses Jeff Johnson After Tim Pawlenty Snubs Activists

Failed Governor Loses to Bachmann-Endorsed Jeff Johnson in Low Turnout Convention

At today’s Minnesota Republican Convention, Republican activists sent a message to Tim Pawlenty – ignore us at your own peril. While Tim Pawlenty was working as a multi-million dollar lobbyist in Washington, D.C., Jeff Johnson was working for the Republican candidates across Minnesota.

While Pawlenty has tried to underplay the importance of the party endorsement by skipping the process this year, in 2002, he said he would  “end his campaign if he loses the endorsement.”

So, what’s changed? Maybe it’s the fact that a failed governor turned lobbyist is not exactly what the Republican base is looking for in the Trump era.

But maybe the biggest worry for the Republican party was the reports of low turnout, causing GOP operatives to air their concerns.

“Despite having served two terms as governor and having a significant financial advantage, Tim Pawlenty wants you to believe he wasn’t able to compete for this endorsement,” said DGA Deputy Communications Director David Turner. “Yet, in 2002, it was critical for his campaign. This convention just shows how divided the GOP is in Minnesota. The primary brawl is real, anD it’s not going away anytime soon.”

  • In June 2002, Pawlenty Said He Would “End His Campaign If He Loses [Republican Party] Endorsement.” According to the Star Tribune, “The convention’s big event comes Friday, as delegates choose between businessman Brian Sullivan and House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty for governor. Each vows to end his campaign if he loses the endorsement.” [Star Tribune, 6/12/02]


  • In June 2002, Pawlenty “Promised” He Would “Drop Out” If He Lost Party Endorsement. According to the Associated Press, “The two candidates were scheduled to speak at the convention Friday morning before delegates began voting. If sentiments remain as close as straw polls have indicated, several rounds of voting may be required, stretching into late afternoon or evening. Since late April, Pawlenty and Sullivan each won four straw polls conducted at Republican conventions held in Minnesota’s eight congressional districts. In those eight polls, Sullivan had 1,034 votes overall to Pawlenty’s 987. Each has promised to drop out of the race if the other is endorsed.” [Associated Press, 6/14/02]


  • In June 2002, Pawlenty Won Endorsement, Even Though He Did Not Reach Automatic 60% Threshold, After His Opponent Dropped Out to Help Unify GOP. According to the Associated Press, “Tim Pawlenty won the gubernatorial endorsement of the Minnesota Republican Party early Saturday, defeating Brian Sullivan after 12 rounds of voting by 2,200 delegates at the party’s convention. Sullivan conceded after Pawlenty received support from 58 percent of the convention’s delegates in voting that ended about 2:45 a.m. Under party rules, the endorsement would go to the first person to be supported by 60 percent. ‘Let’s get Tim Pawlenty elected the next governor of Minnesota,’ Sullivan said. He then asked the delegates to endorse Pawlenty by acclamation, which they did The motion ended a voting process that began nearly 15 hours earlier. Delegates were evenly split through the day, with neither candidate able to muster more than 53 percent of the vote. [Associated Press, 6/15/02]