ST. PAUL, Minn. – Ex-judge and former Minnesota first lady Mary Pawlenty is weighing a run for Congress in a district that won't have an incumbent on the 2016 ballot, The Associated Press learned Saturday.
A person with knowledge of her consideration told AP that the wife of former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty hasn't set a timetable for deciding. The person insisted on anonymity to disclose private conversations.
Pawlenty would start with broad name recognition and could tap a donor base from her husband's gubernatorial and presidential campaigns. After an unsuccessful 2012 bid for the White House, Tim Pawlenty now heads a financial industry lobbying association and commutes weekly between Minnesota and Washington.
She declined an interview request.
Pawlenty, who has also been a mediator and worked for a medical nonprofit, lives in Eagan. The judgeship she held for more than a decade covered territory overlapping with much of the politically competitive 2nd Congressional District, which GOP Rep. John Kline represents. He announced this week he won't seek an eighth term.
The district starts south of St. Paul and hugs the Minnesota-Wisconsin border to the east. While Kline ran up comfortable margins, Democratic President Barack Obama and Sen. Al Franken won it the last times they've run.
Two Democrats, Angie Craig and Mary Lawrence, have been in the congressional race for months but could get company from other Democrats now that the seat is coming open. Republican David Gerson is also running already with many more in the GOP considering campaigns, mostly current or former legislators from the district.
State Rep. Pat Garofalo of Farmington, who has ruled out a congressional campaign, said even the mere possibility of a Pawlenty campaign could change the course of other potential candidates.
"Her name is enough to give people pause," Garofalo said. "But when you combine her name with her background, that's enough to get people to get out."