County Commissioner Jeff Johnson has beaten former Gov. Tim Pawlenty in Minnesota’s Republican primary for governor, derailing Pawlenty’s bid to reclaim his old job.
Johnson won Tuesday despite Pawlenty’s enormous fundraising and name recognition advantages. He also won despite his own history as the party’s losing candidate for governor four years ago.
Johnson positioned himself as a more conservative candidate than Pawlenty. He branded the former two-term governor as part of the “status quo” and bashed him for calling Trump “unhinged and unfit for the presidency” in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election.
Pawlenty was hoping to resurrect his political career after flaming out as a presidential candidate in 2011. He spent the intervening years as a Washington lobbyist.