ST. PAUL - A former Minnesota Republican chairman and lawmaker has ended his campaign for governor, saying Tim Pawlenty's entrance in the race means he cannot win.

"The opportunity for me to win in November has closed," Keith Downey wrote to supporters Wednesday, April 18.

Downey said the endorsement race is "wide open" and his campaign is sound but he is "unable to see a path to victory now."

"The reality is that the landscape changed dramatically when former Governor Tim Pawlenty considered, and then entered, the race," Downey said.

Pawlenty, in the race about three weeks, this week announced his campaign has raised nearly $1 million, by far the most of any governor candidate. More than 200 people gave Pawlenty the maximum $4,000 allowed by law.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

In comparison, Downey reported $52,000 in contributions and $39,000 in the bank.

Downey's exit leaves Pawlenty, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens as the main GOP candidates.

Johnson reported receiving $105,000 in the first quarter of the year, with Stephens raising $51,000.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep Tim Walz collected $528,000 so far this year. Since he announced his campaign last year, Walz has raised nearly $1.7 million.

State Auditor Rebecca Otto, also a Democratic governor candidate, reported raising $170,000 while state Rep. Erin Murphy brought in $121,000.

The governor's race attracted a lot of candidates because Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has said for years that he will not seek a third term.

Downey, 57, was state party chairman 2013 to 2017 and in the state House 2009 to 2013. He lives in suburban Edina.