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Dayton’s name and money carry the political day

Election news dominates the day. ALSO: speeding cars and Taser tales.

It could be a Warren Zevon song, “Money, name and Iron Rangers.” But it’s close to the essence of Mark Dayton’s victory in the DFL gubernatorial race. Everyone is on the story, naturally. Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Strib (with additional staff input) applies a bit of an edge, writing, “Dayton leaves the most expensive gubernatorial primary in state history — the three DFL candidates dumped more than $9 million — and enters one where his millions could easily trump his competitors.” Dayton, of course, was outspent by Matt Entenza, who finished a distant third.

Baird Helgeson gets the Strib’s election analysis job: “If Dayton wins, ‘he is one up on Lazarus, who only rose from the dead once,” said David Schultz, a Hamline University professor and political expert. ‘It is also a victory of money and name recognition over the DFL machine. Dayton is the outsider with executive experience.’ But Dayton also has a long-standing relationship with Minnesota voters, who over the years have elected him to statewide office twice.” He adds: “Kelliher’s defeat could raise wrenching questions among party leaders who triumphantly anointed the Minnesota House speaker at their endorsing convention earlier this year. She is the first DFL gubernatorial endorsee to lose the primary since 1998. Several Republicans have said Dayton would offer Emmer the best chance of victory in November.” The phrase “dream candidate” has also been heard. More often before Emmer’s $100K waiter business, obviously.

The PiPress’s Bill Salisbury echoes much the same as Schultz: “Dayton’s win is likely to put another hole in the DFL endorsing system. It showed that party activists couldn’t deliver the votes at the ballot box to make their choice stick. Republicans, by contrast, have routinely backed their party’s endorsed candidates in primaries. Dayton, an heir to his family’s department store fortune, spent more than $3 million on his primary campaign. But Entenza spent more than $5 million of his family’s fortune. Kelliher, whose family is not wealthy, managed to raise more than $1 million for her bid. Dayton and Entenza overwhelmed Kelliher with television advertising.”

The MPR story, written by Tim Pugmire, gets an odd quote from Entenza, who finished a distant third after spending $5 million of his own money: “In a brief concession speech before a few dozen campaign staffers and volunteers, Entenza pledged to support the eventual party nominee. Entenza thanked his running mate, former TV news anchor Robyne Robinson, whom he credited for getting other African Americans involved in the campaign. ‘This campaign, in ways that no campaign has ever done, reached out to our communities of color,’ Entenza said. ‘We have awakened them in a way that’s profound and in which we need to make sure that the DFL continues to do. I’m committed, as I know Robyne is committed, to making sure that the voice of those communities which strongly supported us, and we saw that today, is a voice that will continue to be heard.’ ” Not sure which campaign he’s really referring to there.

Early evening analysis on a race like Tuesday’s can get funky in retrospect. WCCO’s post-poll closing report from about 9:30 last night gets off to a rough start, but Esme Murphy pretty well nails what’s going down.

MPR’s Mike Mulcahy on the station’s ‘Polinaut” blog has Secretary of State Mark Ritchie estimating a meager 10 to 11 percent turnout, with a lot of absentee voting: “Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says it looks like nearly 31,000 absentee ballots were cast in the primary, which is a new record. Unfortunately, after all the publicity around the 2008 U.S. Senate recount, it also look likes about 1,080 absentee ballots were rejected. That’s just about the same percentage as were rejected in 2008.” But did those “Felons for Franken” who got so much attention vote straight DFL?

Power Line’s Scott Johnson doesn’t tippy-toe around  his  breakdown of the night’s action. “Dayton’s television advertising has sought to convey a message of all the good things he will do as Minnesota’s chief executive. In the meantime, Dayton’s family and union friends have run a relentless barrage of attack ads regarding Republican nominee Tom Emmer. The attack ads feature Emmer’s ancient drunk driving convictions, among other things. The attack on Emmer is made on behalf of a candidate who is not only an alcoholic with mental problems, but who fell off the wagon as a United States Senator during his last year in office just a few years ago. Dayton disgraced himself in his single term as United States Senator. He has done nothing to prove himself fit to serve in an executive capacity, but his money has served him well so far.” I suspect we’ll be hearing more on that theme through the fall.

Elsewhere, gay Republican state Sen. Paul Koering lost. The AP story says: “Koering was knocked during the campaign for straying from his party on legislative votes. The race got wide exposure this summer when Koering, who is gay, acknowledged dining with a male adult film star. Koering had complained the state party was engaged in dirty campaigning when it filed requests with area law enforcement for any records authorities had on him.” And, “Koering told the Dispatch he wouldn’t support Gazelka. ‘The (Republican) party has taken a hard turn to the right,’ he said. ‘That’s not where most people are.’ ” And the gay porn thing is a little tough on the rock-ribbed crowd.

“Really, officer? I had no idea I was going that fast.” Those words were probably not uttered by the guy ripping down a back road in Wadena County last month … at 178 mph. (The speed estimate comes from his apparently freaked-out female companion, not the cops.) Bob Von Sternberg’s story for the Strib is short and sweet. “The driver of the red Corvette, who was not identified, was the fastest to be busted by law enforcement officials during a statewide sweep against speeders conducted by Minnesota’s law enforcement agencies throughout July.” The runner-up was a Bronco in Kandiyohi County pulled over at 128 mph. (And I get ticketed for expired tabs …)

For their sake, let’s say the heat drove them to it. As Tad Veznor writes in the PiPress, a 20-year-old Frogtown “man” blasted an 8-year-old neighbor kid in the head with a paintball gun, because the kid owed him $5. When the cops showed up he got belligerent and had to be Tasered at which point, more or less, “A 22-year-old female cousin of the man then jumped on the back of the officer’s partner, who pepper-sprayed her. The man was booked into the Ramsey County Jail on suspicion of aggravated assault and obstructing legal process. His cousin was also booked on suspicion of obstructing legal process and disorderly conduct.”

Veznor’s Taser Beat kicks out still another story, this one about St. Paul cops chasing a guy on … a go-kart, with a lawn mower engine … around downtown. “Four squad cars were able to force the go-cart into a parking lot near the main post office. But once there, the man continued to weave around and try to escape, once hitting his neck on a low-hanging chain bordering the lot. He kept his seat and continued driving. Finally, one officer got out of his car, ran up to the man and yelled at him to stop. Still the man refused, police said. The officer pulled out a Taser and fired, connecting and shocking the driver. The man let go of his steering wheel and began to slow, but the shock abated and the man again grabbed hold of the steering wheel and tried to regain control. The officer shocked him again. The second Taser shock ended, and the go-cart slowed and stopped. Officers pulled the driver out of his seat and attempted to subdue him, but he fought with them, and they Tased him a third time.” THREE tasers and he’s still kicking? Send that guy to training camp in Mankato.

Under the file heading of “I always wondered how they did that?”: MPR’s Mark Steil explains the process by which the feds estimate the size of the nation’s crops as the growing season reaches its peak and preparations for harvest … and commodities markets are being made. Imagine if all the corn fields in the nation were stitched together into one giant patch. All together, this field would be some 89 million acres, about the size of Minnesota and Iowa combined.  “Agriculture Department workers help come up with the estimate by heading to individual fields. The start of the enormous undertaking looks about as sophisticated as following an old pirate map. ‘We go in 75 rows, and then we turn south and we start counting out 360 paces,’ said USDA worker Diane Dick on a recent outing.” The much-awaited crop forecasts are due out Thursday morning.