Fischbach Joins Pawlenty Campaign As His Running Mate
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach joined former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s campaign as his running mate on Thursday and she confirmed she was offered the spot before she left the state Senate last week after months of resisting her new position in Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration.
Dayton isn’t seeking re-election, and Fischbach’s entry adds a surprise twist to the wide-open race for governor this fall and raises the unusual prospect of a lieutenant governor serving under governors from different parties. It’s happened at least twice in Minnesota history — in the 1950’s and 1960’s, before the state elected its top executive branch officials under a combined ticket.
Fischbach’s selection also sheds new light on her abrupt decision last week to join Dayton’s administration and abandon her fight to keep her longtime state Senate seat. As the state Senate president, Fischbach was automatically thrust into the job after Dayton appointed the previous lieutenant governor, Democrat Tina Smith, to the U.S. Senate following Franken’s resignation amid a sexual misconduct scandal
After being sworn in last week, Fischbach said the end of the legislative session meant she no longer needed to protect the GOP’s one-seat majority in the Senate.
Fischbach said Thursday that she was offered the spot as Pawlenty’s running mate before she decided to resign from the Legislature, but that she may have resigned anyway. By doing so, she curtailed a second lawsuit that sought to force her out of the Senate and ensured that the election to fill her central Minnesota Senate seat would coincide with the November election.
“I’ve had a big adventure the last few months,” Fischbach said.
Dayton said he had no issue with his new lieutenant governor running for the same job with a candidate from a different party. He dismissed any concern that her decision to formally join his administration was politically motivated.
“This is an election year. Everything is political,” he said. “She has the perfect right to run for another office. Or the same one.”
Pawlenty touted the addition of Fischbach to his campaign, stressing her legislative expertise from 22 years spent in the state Senate. Pawlenty served as governor from 2003 until 2011.
Fischbach also adds some more conservative credentials to Pawlenty’s ticket as he gears up for an August primary. Fischbach comes from a very Republican district in the St. Cloud area. Her husband, Scott Fischbach, is the executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a group that lobbies for stronger abortion restrictions.
Republican activists will meet this weekend to endorse a candidate for governor, but Pawlenty and Fischbach aren’t competing for the party’s nod.