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Alida Messinger, Gov. Dayton’s ex-wife and Rockefeller heir, to play more public political role

Alida Messinger, the Rockefeller heir who was once married to Gov.

Alida Messinger, the Rockefeller heir who was once married to Gov. Mark Dayton, has privately funded many charitable and liberal political causes in the past, but always stayed behind the scenes.

But now, according to a Sunday profile in the Star Tribune, she’s ready to take a more public stance in the effort to return the DFL Party to power in the Legislature.

Says the story:

She is vowing to do all she can to help the DFL regain control of the Legislature and get President Obama re-elected. Her millions could also become a force in the fight over the constitutional amendment on the ballot next year to define marriage as a union of man and woman — not gay couples. Messinger, 62, contends GOP politicians are harming Minnesota. “We are not a quality-of-life state anymore,” she said. “Citizens need to get involved and say we don’t like what you are doing to our state.”

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Republicans in the state are not thrilled:

 “She is going to try to decimate Republican legislators so Governor Dayton can have free reign over the state to raise taxes and grow the size of state government,” said Michael Brodkorb, GOP activist and former deputy state party chairman.

The governor and his ex-wife remain friendly and seem to work toward the same political ends:

Dayton and Messinger have been divorced since 1986. They remain close, both as parents and through an arm’s-length political alliance. They do not, they say, collaborate on policy.

“I think he trusts me and respects me, but I am not part of his inner circle,” Messinger said. She is now married to Bill Messinger, president of Aureus, an addiction recovery organization.

Dayton said in a statement that “Alida is the most extraordinary contributor to social causes I have ever known. … She has given and done so much, in countless, untold ways, to benefit our state.”

And now she’s ready to be more public about her political efforts:

Messinger said she knew when she started getting involved in politics it would end the privacy she so carefully guarded for decades. But she said it infuriates her that a generation of good philanthropic work can be undone in a moment by a bad governor or Legislature. That, she said, is what’s driving her now. Friends and confidantes said they expect her upcoming political activity to mirror her philanthropic work — she comes in big, and then leaves people and organizations she trusts to do the work they promised.