by Mike Knaak
Republican candidate for governor Tim Pawlenty announced May 31 that former state senator and current Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach will be his running mate.
Fischbach, who has represented portions of Stearns and Benton counties since 1996, resigned her Senate seat on May 25. Senate District 13 includes the cities of Sartell and St. Joseph.
When Lt. Gov. Tiny Smith resigned to take Al Franken’s vacated U.S. Senate seat, Fischbach who was president of the Senate, automatically became lieutenant governor as set forth in the Minnesota Constitution. Fischbach, from Paynesville, took the lieutenant governor oath of office after resigning her Senate seat.
Pawlenty served two terms as governor after his first election in 2002. After leaving public office, he served as the leader of The Financial Services Roundtable.
Pawlenty has said he will skip the Republican convention on June 1-2 in Duluth and won’t try for his party’s endorsement. Instead he’ll run in the Aug. 14 primary.
Fischbach’s resignation from the Senate now means there will be a special election this fall for Senate District 13.
Current District 13A Rep. Jeff Howe and two democrats, Michael Willemsen and Joe Perske, have filed for the seat.
Howe, a Republican from Rockville, was first elected to the Minnesota House in 2012 and was re-elected in 2014 and 2016. Prior to his election to the legislature, Howe served on the Rockville City Council.
Willemsen from Sauk Rapids challenged Fischbach in 2016 and lost. He’s a group home site supervisor. Perske is a former Sartell mayor and current Stearns County commissioner.