- Associated Press - Monday, April 9, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Republican Governors Association placed a reservation on Monday for $2.3 million in advertising in the Minnesota governor’s race, just days after GOP former Gov. Tim Pawlenty entered the race for his old job.

National groups like the RGA and Democratic counterparts have signaled some interest in the race for governor as Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton leaves office. But the six weeks of ad reservations - which it could cancel, if it wishes - is both a show of faith in Pawlenty from a powerful national group and a concrete sign that the election could be expensive.

“The Minnesota governor’s race is a top pickup opportunity for Republicans this November. The RGA is committed to flipping the governorship and this ad buy is just the beginning of our efforts,” RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said.

Pawlenty formally entered the race last week after months of gearing up to run for the office he left in 2011 after two terms - and a failed presidential bid. He’s a top contender among a crowded Republican field that had struggled with fundraising and garnered little interest from national groups.

The Democratic Governors Association hasn’t yet placed an ad buy in Minnesota but spent the weeks leading up to Pawlenty’s announcement laying the ground work for attacks against him. State-based groups including Alliance for a Better Minnesota have already reserved ad space for the two months leading up to the November election.

Reserving commercial space early allows political groups to lock in lower advertising rates. That’s critical this year in Minnesota’s red-hot political climate.

In addition to a gubernatorial race without an incumbent, the state has two U.S. Senate elections, at least four competitive congressional campaigns and other statewide races.

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