(CNN) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will announce Tuesday that he will not seek a third term as governor, sources tell CNN.
The decision to avoid a potentially difficult re-election bid next year will almost certainly be seen as the first step in a possible presidential run in 2012.
Pawlenty has scheduled a press conference at 3 pm ET today to reveal his future plans at the state capitol building in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The two-term Republican governor who has pressed the party to a better job of reaching out to what he calls "Sam's Club voters" was reported to be on John McCain's shortlist as a running mate in last year's election.
Pawlenty was first elected governor in 2002 and squeaked out a re-election victory in 2006, when Republicans across the country were hammered in the midterm elections.
Pawlenty has come under pressure lately to sign a certificate of election allowing Al Franken to take his seat in the U.S. Senate, if Minnesota's state supreme court rules in favor of Franken and against Republican Norm Coleman in the state's marathon Senate battle.
His approval ratings in the state have slipped in recent months, numbers that might have left him potentially vulnerable to a Democratic challenger if he ran again.
UPDATE: CNN's John King reports that two conservative activists in the Washington area who are close with Pawlenty and his team say the governor is actively thinking about 2012.
The sources said that by leaving after two terms, Pawlenty will be able to go out on top by closing a $4.6 billion budget gap without tax increases favored by the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party. Pawlenty did so using the line item veto and unalottment - something no other GOP Governor has done.
The sources also said that campaign finance laws in Minnesota are restrictive and would would make it difficult to operate on a national stage.
This man must resign....After the way he handled the recent Senate Election, and how narrowly he won in 2006, he just cannot build enough credibility for a re-election. Norm Coleman has basically thrown the chances of another Republican Governor in 2010 away with his stupidity...
Pawlenty is not a 2012 material. If he were smart he should not even think about it and waste his money. If there is an election between him and Palin, Palin will win overwhelmingly. The only Republican that may have a good chance in 2012 beside Palin is Romney. To win the national election, the Republican should limit their candidates to those who have experience in governance as well as in national elections and debates. It is the American people who will decide. So far, only Palin has the charisma and leadership that can generate overwhelming support from the masses.
Having run the state of Minnesota to the ground these past 7 years, including health care and education, and cutting any program that could be cut due to his complementary 5 billion dollar deficit, Pawlenty decides he wants a run at the presidency?
Did Pawlenty forget to mention these facts when declaring he was able to cap out the Minnesota budget without raising taxes, or are they a secret?
(Did I mention ignoring the I-35W bridge collapse and who knew how dangerous it was prior to collapsing?)
If his numbers here in Minnesota are an indicator, I'd say Pawlenty has a lot of explaining to do.
@ Mark..I'd almost think you were sincere if you directed that to Republicans as well..
It amazes me that folks can't talk about the subject at hand without trying to get a dig in at Obama...sad...petty...but expected from the un-educated....
He can't even take care of the problems in Minnesota, ie: Franken and Coleman, so, why would anyone think he could run the country. If I lived in Minnesota I would feel let down that I couldn't go and vote against him.
Having run the State of Minnesota to the ground with his 5 billion dollar deficit including cutting any program that could be cut, Pawlenty now is ready for the big leagues, is he?
Perhaps he forgot to mention all the spending cuts necessary to cap his budget without raising taxes? Or the I-35W bridge collapse and his refusual to authorize the funding needed to repair the bridge until AFTER it collapsed.
He should appoint himself as Senator.
He also plans to be out of the office of the Governor by the time the Senator is finally seated.
Phewlenty has ruined the state of Minnesota. The citizens have been rumbling about impeachment with his blatant rejection of a budget and sets himself up to a bush dogma to DO IT HIMSELF. Run for president. He wouldn't get enough votes to put in the the top 500 candidates. He stinks. And I think the people are going to throw a big party when he leaves, the sooner the better.
And if he doesn't sign the certification for Franken when the state supreme court rules in Frankens favor, he really is up for impeachment because that is breaking Minnesota State Law. And no body could stop it.
Let me get this straight. You are saying that he isn't running for Governor to avoid a tight race but would run for President? It doesn't matter anyway, he is too open minded to win the R nomination.
Hey, Sharon Kitchen, lay off the crystal meth.
@ donna.......... I like your comment. Its SO true!
Yes, Pawlenty will be one of the 2012 crowd. Surprise!
Mullet man in 2012? Weak, GOP, weak...
Opps, sorry to bore everyone with 2 postings. I thought the first was delected.
Is he trying to not make a political decision. Do the right thing Pawlenty, certify the election and let the Democrat take his rightful seat.
Are you being kicked out of the Governor's mansion? Wow, did you fail to lead as in the Franken – Coleman situation. Maybe Minnesota is on to something.
Two words......FORGET 2012.
After Obama gives nukes to Iran, just about anyone will be able to beat him in 2012!
Minnesota...Where your vote counts, but election officials and its government cannot. What a three ring circus.
Presidential Run ? Yeah, sure, with that Psycho Congresswomen Bachmann as his running mate. Or, how about Ann C ? Michael Savage ? Boss Limbaugh ? Hannity ? Are the Republicans down to18% yet ?
Not being from MN it is of no concern to me, but as an observer, if my governor left me under-represented in the Senate with just half the representation entitled to me by the Constitution, and let it drag out for 7 months, he would never get my vote, for that reason alone.
Are you kidding me? A Presidential run. The longer he allows this circus of an election in Minnesota to drag on the more it looks like Pawlenty won't even make it out of IOWA. He's the one who signs the certificate authenticating the winner and if Coleman is struck down by the MN Supreme Court and he still refuses to sign the certificate, he should just resign.
And the thought of him receiving a public endorsement from that god-awful woman in Michelle Bachmann is frightening enough.