Pawlenty, 57, has said he is “reflecting” on the Senate race, 11 years since he last ran in Minnesota and six years since his short-lived presidential campaign fizzled. Since then, he’s split his time between Washington, heading the financial industry’s top lobbying group, and his home in Eagan, Minnesota.

While publicly insisting he’s “politically retired,” he had already been weighing a return to public office, including the governorship next year or the Senate in 2020, former Minnesota House Speaker Steve Sviggum said.

“The governor has that feeling in his stomach, that feeling in his gut about further public service,” Sviggum said, recalling a recent lunch with Pawlenty.