Mark Dayton started planning his run for governor before he left the U.S. Senate.
On the one hand, this is kinda shocking. On the other hand, it’s no big scoop. On the last day of his Senate term, in January of 2007, Sen. Dayton told Kevin Diaz of the Strib that he was thinking of running for guv. The headline on Diaz’ page one Strib sendoff to Sen. Dayton says “The departing Democrat plans to stay in politics and may run for governor in 2010.”
At the moment, I don’t know how much Dayton did during 2007 to lay the groundwork for his next campaign, but by mid-2008 he was telling anyone who asked that he planned to run.I don’t know Dayton well at all, but I do recall speaking to him during that time frame, and being shocked, both that he was planning to run and that he was so open about it. I also felt that he would have no chance, so soon after the conclusion of his one Senate term, even to receive serious consideration for his party’s nomination, especially since he left office stating plainly that he would not be the Dems’ best hope to retain that Senate seat in 2006.
I bring up this ancient history because I find it surprising, and as a reminder to myself that I don’t see the future clearly at all, especially where elective politics is concerned.
Dayton announced his gubernatorial run officially (he was not the first, but among the first) in January of 2009, which at the moment seems half an eon ago. And now he is the nominee of his party and, according to the most recent polls matching him against Tom Emmer and Tom Horner, starts the final round as the frontrunner. The KSTP/SurveyUSA poll had it Dayton 46; Emmer 32; Horner 9.
Those numbers will change, soon and many times before November when we’ll find out the numbers that matter. But some things don’t change.
In that four-year-old send-off piece, my friend and former colleague Diaz sought reaction from then Repub Chair Ron Carey to Dayton’s thoughts of a gubernatorial future. Here’s Carey’s quote from that story:
“Mark Dayton has received national recognition by Time magazine as one of ‘America’s Worst Senators’ and has himself acknowledged that he deserved an ‘F’ for his ineffectiveness in the U.S. Senate,” said Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Ron Carey. “With a track record like that, I find it beyond belief that Mark Dayton would think he has what it takes to be our governor.”