ST. PAUL, Minn. — A top adviser says former Gov. Tim Pawlenty has scheduled a meeting with his inner circle as he nears a decision on whether to run for governor.

Pawlenty’s possibly entry has been the source of speculation for months, and would likely be the immediate favorite among Republicans if he gets in. He ruled out running for former Sen. Al Franken’s seat last month.

Pawlenty has largely been out of the spotlight since leaving office in 2011 and a failed 2012 presidential bid.

Former spokesman Brian McClung confirmed Thursday that Pawlenty is actively considering a run, and will meet Feb. 12 with aides and advisers to discuss the race. MPR News first reported the meeting.

Pawlenty is the last Republican to win a statewide election in Minnesota.

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