By Don Davis
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was not involved in the 2014 election, and seems just happy with that.
“I have kinda taken a political sabbatical,” Pawlenty told reporters Friday after he talked to Republican state House members.
However, he later sent a message to reporters that he meant that he was retired from politics.
“I think I had a full run,” he said, reminding reporters that he spent three years on the Eagan City Council, 10 in the state House and eight as governor before his unsuccessful run for president. “I don’t know what more I can do.”
Pawlenty said he avoided politics this year, but House GOP leaders invited him to speak to their caucus before they picked a speaker and other leaders.
“This is an enormous privilege,” he said was his message, especially to newly elected lawmakers who gave Republicans the House majority.
He advised the members, and any Republicans looking to win, that they stick to the basics “that people care about” like jobs and public safety. GOP candidates need to learn to appeal better to independent voters, he added.
Pawlenty said that this year’s election reminded him of his last Minnesota campaign, with Democrats and Republicans splitting wins.
“Minnesota is unpredictable,” he said. “It is not unlike 2006. … Minnesotans want to balance things out.”
Pawlenty was the last Minnesota Republican to win a statewide office.
Since his presidential bid failed, Pawlenty has led the Financial Services Roundtable in Washington, D.C. He said he returns to Minnesota every week to the same Eagan house where he has lived for years.