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Rep. Erik Paulsen still not ruling out challenge to Franken

For the second time in recent weeks, it has been reported that Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) has decided not to challenge Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) in 2014.

And for the second time, Paulsen's office says that's not the case.A local report this afternoon cited a University of Minnesota political science professor who said Paulsen had told him he wouldn't run against Franken. The professor also tweeted the news.

But a spokesman for Paulsen says that's not accurate and that the congressman is not prepared to foreclose a run for Senate next year.

"Rep. Paulsen is solely focused on representing the 3rd district, but has not ruled anything out related to 2014," said the spokesman, John-Paul Yates.

It was also reported on Jan. 2 that Paulsen had said he would not run, but Paulsen's office said at the time that his words were misconstrued.

Politicians who don't want to give a definitive answer about running for higher office will often say that they are focused on their current jobs and/or that they "aren't running" for the next office. That's all present-tense, of course, and things can and do change.

For now, it appears safe to assume that Paulsen will indeed entertain the idea of challenging Franken.

(Worth noting: Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is also up for reelection two years from now.)

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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