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Lt. Gov. Smith won’t run for governor in 2018

Democratic Lt. Gov. Tina Smith announced Friday that she would not run for governor in 2018, shaking up a wide field for the open seat.

Smith had long been viewed as a top contender for governor because of her visible perch as Gov. Mark Dayton’s second-in-command. Outside Republican political groups frequently singled out Smith while laying the groundwork for the 2018 campaign.

But Smith announced she would not run in a statement posted on her Facebook page Friday afternoon. She didn’t shed light on why she decided against a run for Minnesota’s top job, nor did she endorse a candidate among the three Democrats who have already launched bids.

She promised to work “as hard as I can to elect a Democrat for Governor in 2018, because I believe we have the best ideas for how to create jobs and opportunity for everyone in Minnesota.”

Smith joined Dayton’s ticket as lieutenant governor in 2014. She had previously served as his top aide, as well as the top aide to former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Her announcement could throw open the field for Democratic candidates that has already started to fill out. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, state Rep. Erin Murphy and State Auditor Rebecca Otto have already launched campaigns. Top-tier Republican candidates including House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek are still weighing whether to enter the race.

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