Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday he will not run in November’s special election for Senate.

“I am very interested in public service and service for the common good — there are a lot of different ways to do that — but I’ll tell you today running for the United States Senate in 2018 won’t be part of those plans,” Pawlenty told Fox Business.

Many Republicans had considered Pawlenty, currently the CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, their best shot to take on newly appointed Sen. Tina Smith in the special election to fill former Sen. Al Franken’s seat.

Pawlenty was the last Republican to win a statewide election. Former Sen. Norm Coleman, who had spoken to Pawlenty about service in the Senate, had called him the “ideal candidate.”

In response to questions about GOP fundraisers urging him to run, Pawlenty said on Fox Business Tuesday he appreciated their encouragement but pointed out the difficulty of running a 10-month campaign.

“It’s going to be a very competitive race in a tough state for a Republican, so you’d have to start very soon,” he said.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rated the race Likely Democratic after Franken announced his resignation.

GOP Rep. Tom Emmer may be interested. Former Rep. Michele Bachmann has said she’s been encouraged to run. State House Speaker Kurt Daudt is another potential contender. State Sen. Karin Housley — the wife of the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres — is already running.

"State Senator Karin Housley is, as they say in racing, in the pole position," Coleman said in an email Tuesday afternoon.

The GOP endorsement will be made at the state party’s June convention. Ballot access will be determined by the primary in August.

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Democrats are unlikely to support a stopgap spending bill this week without protections for young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said Tuesday.

“I think it needs to be in the CR,” Hoyer said of protections for Dreamers.

The Maryland Democrat said he’s “hopeful” Congress can pass those protections, needed because of President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program effective in March, within the next 72 hours.

Hoyer also said he’s hopeful an agreement on increasing the sequestration spending caps for defense and nondefense spending can be reached this week and said that too should be included in a continuing resolution to extend government funding. He also mentioned disaster aid funding as a Democratic priority.

If those issues are not addressed, Democrats are expected to oppose the CR but Hoyer noted that decision has not been made yet given ongoing negotiations.

“While there are many reasons why we would be opposed to kicking the can down the road, we haven’t made that decision yet,” Hoyer said.

Democrats believe CRs are bad policy, Hoyer said, citing many Republicans who also share that view. However, he also questioned whether GOP leaders want to reach a broader spending deal.

“We think they may just want to fund government by CRs,” the Democratic whip said. “The problem is their guys don’t want to do that.”

Hoyer acknowledged that Democrats “don’t have many tools available” to push their priorities on spending and immigration, which is why they’re leveraging the CR since their votes will be needed, at least in the Senate.

If Republicans fail to put up the needed votes for a CR and all Democrats vote against it, Hoyer said they’d be able to argue “pretty persuasively” that they’re not to blame for a shutdown.

“We don’t have the majority; they have the majority,” he said.

Republicans are expected to include a six-year reauthorization of the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program in the CR as a sweetener for Democrats.

While that “may” complicate Democrats’ position in opposing a stopgap absent deals on DACA and spending caps, Hoyer said, “Democrats are not going to be held hostage by bad policies or inaction.”

Complicating the negotiations on DACA are reports that Trump used the term “shithole” to describe Haiti and African countries during a White House meeting last week on a Senate proposal that would extend certain protections to immigrants from those areas. Trump opposes the Senate proposal.

Hoyer said Trump’s comments “were certainly racist” and when pushed to say whether he believes the president himself is a racist, the Maryland Democrat confirmed as much.

“What he does is racist. If what you do is racist, you certainly qualify for being a racist,” he said.

Regarding the bipartisan Senate immigration proposal, Hoyer said he has not been fully apprised of the agreement but indicated he could not support any measure that would make changes to extended family visas or the diversity visa lottery program.

“I am not for, at this point in time, dealing with family unification or diversity,” Hoyer said, noting concerns within the Democratic caucus about the racial undertones related to altering those policies. He said those issues should be tabled for later discussion as part of a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

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Podcast: Inching Toward a Spending Spree

By David Lerman

Analysis: Tough Road Ahead for Ryan in 2018

By Lindsey McPherson

Cohen’s Car Stands Out

By Bian Elkhatib

A panel of three federal judges in North Carolina struck down the state’s 2016 congressional map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander on Tuesday.

The ruling blocks the state from conducting any elections under the 2016 map and orders the state’s General Assembly to redraw congressional districts by Jan. 24 for the 2018 elections.

The state will likely appeal the decision to the Supreme Court and ask for a stay. The Supreme Court is currently considering two other partisan gerrymandering cases, one about state legislative districts in Wisconsin and one about Maryland’s congressional map.

The filing deadline for congressional candidates in North Carolina is Feb. 28, and the primary is May 8.

The Jan. 24 deadline gives the General Assembly two weeks to come up with a remedial plan. But because it’s the middle of an election year, the court is also appointing a so-called special master to develop a remedial plan in case the the General Assembly fails to deliver a plan or their plan doesn’t remedy the partisan gerrymander.

The fact that North Carolina has a Democratic governor doesn’t give Democrats much control in this situation. The governor does not have power to veto a redistricting plan from the General Assembly, said Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center's Democracy Program.

There’s precedent for court-mandated redistricting during an election year in North Carolina. After a three-judge panel in February 2016 ruled that the GOP-legislature relied too heavily on race in 2011 to draw the 1st and 12th Districts, the General Assembly had to approve a new map for the 2016 elections.

The new map maintained Republicans’ partisan advantage in the delegation but shifted some incumbents’ districts, even putting two incumbents in the same district. The adoption of that new 2016 map forced the state to move its House primaries back to June.

Todd Ruger contributed to this report.

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Heard on the Hill

Riding Shotgun: Steve Cohen’s 1986 Cadillac

By Alex Gangitano

Capitol Ink | POTUS Mouth

By Robert Matson

House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper said Wednesday that a measure updating sexual harassment procedures he had planned to introduce this week is still being fine-tuned but that he’s hopeful it will be ready for release early next week.

If he can meet that new due date, a markup on the measure could be held later that week, the Mississippi Republican said.

“The goal is to get it passed out of the House before the end of January,” he added.

Harper said the bill authors are continuing to meet with various stakeholders and members as they finalize the legislation.

“We want to make sure that we don’t have any unintended consequences,” he said.

“We’re focusing, too, on how we encourage prevention so we don’t have to deal with this in the future, but if we do, to deal with it in the right way,” Harper added.

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Podcast: Immigration Imbroglio

By Shawn Zeller