Mark Dayton gains Minneapolis police endorsement — and a new controversy

For the first time since Rudy Perpich was Minnesota’s governor in the ’80s, the Minneapolis Police Officers Association has endorsed a DFL gubernatorial candidate.

At a news conference this morning, Lt. John Delmonico, president of the state’s largest police union, cited its long relationship with Mark Dayton going back to the days when Dayton was state auditor.

He also mention Rep. Tom Emmer’s opposition to Local Government Aid and Dayton’s support of pensions for public employees among the reasons that the union’s elected executive board chose to throw the support of the 800-member union to Dayton.

Before the official news conference began, Delmonico also said cops find Dayton appealing “because he’s a ‘gun guy.’ … That’s unusual among DFLers.”

On a few occasions, Dayton has mentioned that he owns guns and is a supporter of Second Amendment rights.

Republicans have tried to counter this claim by saying that the National Rifle Association found Dayton wanting when he was a U.S. senator. The low rating came, Dayton says, because he voted against a bill that would have legalized what is known as “cop killer” bullets, a Teflon-coated, armor-piercing ammunition. The NRA opposed Dayton on this issue.

Delmonico said the union, which twice supported Gov. Tim Pawlenty, was won over by Dayton “because he’s always been accessible.”

For decades, Republicans have tended to own law-and-order issues.

But with current economic hard times, the issues of law and order and budget squeezes are clashing. Previously, Dayton received the endorsement of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association. (The St. Paul police union has not yet announced an endorsement.)

Delmonico said that there currently are 10 Minneapolis officers laid off because of cuts in LGA funding. Additionally, disputes over pensions for public employees have become an issue in this campaign.

 Emmer has suggested that the day of pensions for public employees are over; that public employees should be moved to 401(k)-type programs, like many in the private sector have.

Again this morning, Dayton supported the pensions paid to public employees.

Mark Dayton
MinnPost/Bill Kelley
Mark Dayton

“Those are earned dollars,” he said, noting that the pension have been negotiated over the decades.

He did say that given how “the downturn has decimated those (pension) funds,” adjustments might need to be made in the future in the amount employees must contribute to the plans. Delmonico nodded in agreement.

This morning’s news conference took a sharp turn, however, when Luke Hellier, who runs a conservative website Minnesota Democrats Exposed, started asking Dayton about his divorce records a decade ago from Janice Haarstick, his second wife. Earlier, he and his first wife, Alida Rockefeller Messinger, had divorced.

On his website and in repeated questions to Dayton this morning, Hellier claimed that two statements from Dayton’s former wife have been removed from the public record and should be made available to the public.

When Hellier brought up the subject this morning, Dayton looked at him and shook his head.

“You know, when Rudy did this in 1990, Minnesotans revulsed,” Dayton said to Helliher.

(The reference was to Gov. Rudy Perpich urging the media to look at Grunseth’s divorce records in the 1990 campaign. Ultimately, Grunseth was shown to have bigger social issues than a messy divorce and, at the last minute, withdrew from the race. He was replaced by Arne Carlson, who went on to defeat Perpich. Many believed that Perpich came across looking both sleazy and desperate in waving Grunseth’s divorce papers and that the action may have cost him the election.)

Dayton said he believes that Minnesotans will have “the decency and good judgment” to be offended by negative ads (there’s a new anti-Dayton ad now airing) and personal issues, such as old divorces.

“The voters will draw the line,” he said.

On the other hand, he said, with a degree of resignation, “Everything is fair game. I’ll just put my faith and trust in the people of Minnesota.”

When the news conference ended, Dayton headed out of the Capitol with Hellier in pursuit asking Dayton to open his records.

Later, Hellier, who once was a staff member for U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and took over Democrats Exposed from Michael Brodkorb, who now is the deputy chairman of the Republican Party, attempted to justify bringing up the divorce.

“I’m not the morality czar,” Hellier said. “It’s not personal. … But if the Star Tribune is going to spend so much time going into Emmer’s background, it’s only fair they do the same to Dayton.”

Doug Grow writes about public affairs, state politics and other topics. He can be reached at dgrow [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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Comments (25)

  1. Submitted by chuck holtman on 08/30/2010 - 01:52 pm.

    So, Mr. Grow, what’s the “controversy”? Mr Dayton’s use of the word “revulse” as an intransitive verb?

  2. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/30/2010 - 02:03 pm.

    Obviously, the GOP is getting desperate. No surprise seeing Emmer’s poor performance to date. The mistake they make in bringing up an issue like this is that eventually people will just ignore everything they say.

  3. Submitted by Brian Simon on 08/30/2010 - 02:51 pm.

    “if the Star Tribune is going to spend so much time going into Emmer’s background, it’s only fair they do the same to Dayton.”

    Interesting line of thinking. Perhaps Hellier might persuade the Strib to go into Dayton’s background, though it occurs to me that may be redundant, given that Dayton has run for statewide office many times over the last what, 30 years? Emmer, by comparison, is quite new to the public. As he’s often reminded voters, he hasn’t been in politics very long, and this is his first statewide run. Surely the voters are entitled to know more about him before we cast our votes.

  4. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 08/30/2010 - 02:52 pm.

    Once again the Republicans show they are willing to stoop to anything to win.

    In the digging up dirt campaign I don’t think the Star Trib and Democrats have done near enough to expose the kind of person Emmer is. I think his business practices and lawsuits for and against are a lot more relevant to his political office than his marital life. I just hope the Democrats are biding their time to expose this sleazebag.

  5. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/30/2010 - 03:47 pm.

    Those folks over at MDE are all class, aren’t they?

    Emmer’s DWI convictions are relevant to his legislative record. They shed some light on his sponsorship of legislation to reduce the penalty for the offense. Dayton’s divorce records relate to . . .what, exactly?

    The former Bachmann minion is still playing morality czar, protestations to the contrary.

  6. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/30/2010 - 04:11 pm.

    “On his website and in repeated questions to Dayton this morning, Hellier claimed that two statements from Dayton’s former wife have been removed from the public record and should be made available to the public.

    “When the news conference ended, Dayton headed out of the Capitol with Hellier in pursuit asking Dayton to open his records.”

    On his website, Hellier is claiming that the documents were removed by Mark Dayton’s ex-wife’s attorney. If that’s the case, there is no reason to think the documents are in Dayton’s possession or that he is in a position to produce them.

  7. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/30/2010 - 05:23 pm.

    But we know what Minnesota Republicans (at least some of them) think about the courts.

  8. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/30/2010 - 07:24 pm.

    Calling Alan Fine; calling Rod Grams!

    Please report to the white courtesy phone, your party has a laugh to share with you.

  9. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/30/2010 - 07:37 pm.

    Mr. Hellier apparently wants to know what happened to these documents: an application for temporary relief and a “Second Affidavit of Janice Haarstick Dayton”.

    From Mr. Hellier’s blog:

    “On March 31, 2000, Janice Haarstick’s attorney from Leonard, Street and Deinard, Roseanne Nathanson, apparently without any authorization under the law to do so, removed these sworn statements and some other documents from the court file. It’s unclear why she was allowed to physically remove these documents from the file without any court order to do so.”

    From the April 7, 2000, order linked to from Mr. Hellier’s blog:

    “all filings [with very specific exceptions]shall be returned to counsel for the filing party.”

    While the written order is dated April 7, it is not unusual for orders to be issued orally, from the bench, and for those orders to be issued in writing at a later date.It is likely that this occurred here. Orders issued from the bench are immediately effective.

    It is even more likely that the parties themselves had agreed to this procedure.

    There’s plenty to criticize when it comes to Mr. Dayton’s candidacy. Why this might be relevant, however, eludes me.

  10. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/30/2010 - 08:32 pm.

    I’m guessing his wife made statements concerning Mr. Dayton’s mental state. Such statements would be relevant in an election campaign.

    Thomas Eagleton had to drop out as George McGovern’s running mate in 1972 when it was discovered that Eagleton had undergone electroshock treatments for depression.

    Given Dayton’s similar mental health history, it’s not a stretch to speculate a similar revelation.

  11. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/30/2010 - 08:50 pm.

    While it may be possible that Dayton had copies of the affidavits at one time, we don’t know that, and we don’t know if he has copies of them now. What we do know, or at least what Mr. Hellier is telling us is that the former Mrs. Dayton or her attorneys are the last people known to have possession of the documents he is seeking, and if he wanted a look at those documents, he should have contacted them. But that wouldn’t have been as much fun as concocting a phony confrontation with Mark Dayton.

  12. Submitted by Mohammed Ali Bin Shah on 08/31/2010 - 12:33 am.

    There could be all types of possible allegations that come up in a divorce case. Physical abuse. Drug use. Infidelity. Mental Health. Much of it used for leverage. And much of it unsubstantiated.

  13. Submitted by Roy Everson on 08/31/2010 - 12:36 am.

    With all the unstable gun nuts in this country it’s just a matter of time that one of them is poised to become a great progressive governor.

    BTW Dayton’s divorce could be pertinent if his ex-wife was an extremely successful waitress who didn’t report her tips. Now there’s a gotcha for ya.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/31/2010 - 08:19 am.

    Let me get this straight; the MPLS police Union, has been supporting Republican’s who have been cutting so much aid to local governments that cities have laid off and reduced officers? Why? Because Republicans are “gun guys”? Way to look out for your own economic best interest.

  15. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/31/2010 - 08:41 am.

    A few thoughts:

    Electro-shock therapy is used today for depression, but rarely. The man has admitted treating for depression. I doubt that any of us are qualified to make judgments based on the treatment received, even if there were evidence Mr. Dayton had received EST.

    The Eagleton affair was far from our finest moment in presidential politics.

    The petition did not seek an order for protection, so far as we are told. Ordinarily, what is involved are things such as posession and use of the home, support, etc. during the pendency of the divorce. In order to support the request, one needs to supply details on the standard of living, among other things. If she didn’t want the details of her lifestyle available for public consumption, that’s her business. It was within the court’s authority to keep the file sealed. Permitting the removal of some data serves the same function, with less burden on the court staff.

  16. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 08/31/2010 - 08:53 am.

    Paul, I was just realizing how strange that was. I mean, it’s not like there’s any liberal in the world who would take the *cops’* guns away. They’re only trying to restrict them for everyone else (“worst case”, of course: most liberals, especially Midwestern ones, have little interest in gun control). If you’re a cop, you think you’d not only want the increased funding of Democrats, but the increased likelihood that the guy you’re chasing through the street isn’t packing. Go figure. At least they got it right this time.

  17. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/31/2010 - 09:57 am.

    I think it would be fair to call Mark Dayton a gun guy. You have to be a little careful in assuming that all liberals are anti-gun. I think liberals with a libertarian streak are often gun folks.

    Mr Emmer made this mistake when he complained about the poor ranking of Mr Dayton by the NRA because of a vote Mr. Dayton took that the NRA took umbrage with. Turns out it was a vote AGAINST cop-killer bullets.

    Mr. Dayton ground Emmer into the dirt on that one. The amusing video is here:

    If I were a cop, I’d be more comfortable with Mr. Dayton’s record than with Mr Emmer’s lack of one…or with Emmer’s misunderstanding of gun issues.

  18. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 08/31/2010 - 11:32 am.

    So Doug,

    If I start a trashy, groundless blog – which could take almost 10 minutes – you’ll then cover any wild statement I make?

  19. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/31/2010 - 02:12 pm.


    Yeah, and the Police Chiefs have been apposed to a lot of gun rights agenda’s like conceal and carry, so what’s up with MPLS cops on the beat? They want people walking around with concealed guns? Somethin just doesn’t pass the smell test here methinks.

    At any rate, frankly I’m not sure what meaningful role if any these endorsements actually play in elections anymore. Members don’t vote the way union leaders tell to vote, so aside from campaign funding what’s the point?

  20. Submitted by Ginny Martin on 08/31/2010 - 02:32 pm.

    I recommend today’s Startrib editorial wondering What Would the GOP do?
    The only thing approaching a policy that I’ve heard is cut taxes. That’s not really a policy; that’s a method or process to do something else, which is . . . what?

  21. Submitted by Francis Ferrell on 08/31/2010 - 07:38 pm.

    With the country in a state of economic turmoil and political turmoil, I want to hear from candidates with ideas, solutions, and a solid action plan to raise the state and economy to fiscal stability and full employment. The last thing I want to hear are political bromides, diatribes, and name calling. Also, he/she who starts throwing political mud at opponents will definitely “NOT” get my attention or vote.

    Unless there are public ‘on the record’ issues; like criminal convictions in one’s background, personal issues lied about, or malfeasance issues from past public offices; then let proper substantive political debate and discourse prevail.

    There must be intelligent and political savvy Minnesotans who are tired of the same old inane election trivial malarkey and negative political mud slinging that has permeated pre-election debates. When I go to vote I want to be knowledgeable and decisive in who I vote for.

    I want my vote to count for something or someone than voting for a cat-fight political debate winner or political beauty contest winner. The electorate should be voting for the candidate who has concise plans and ideals to elevate our society to being even better.

    Proposing slicing, dicing, eliminating, and reducing government or programs because this makes good sound bites for the short term doesn’t make sense for the long view. In other words, let’s see definitive hard solutions that will build a better future. You can cut taxes, cut programs or services, reduce spending, and do nothing else to balance a deficit budget and eliminate a fiscal crisis. But, what is the net future gain to all this? Economic issues or problems still exist. Mud slinging past personal divorce details have no relevance to the state’s crises at hand.

    Substantive debate is what is needed to make intelligent decisions; not, details of any candidate’s messy divorce[s] or inflammatory diatribes that sound like pages from Attila the Hun. It’s time we start acting like proud Minnesotans again and make our votes count for something.

    As the old sage axiom states, “You deserve/get who you voted for!”

  22. Submitted by Mark Petty on 08/31/2010 - 09:43 pm.

    Dear MinnPost: Please stop using the word conservative when you mean Republican. They’re two different things.

  23. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/01/2010 - 08:37 am.


    That’s not really a policy; that’s a method or process to do something else, which is . . . what?

    The agenda is to dismantle most government services and erase the 20th century. Grover Norquist, the Republican champion of small “govment” has famously said the idea is to shrink government to the point where we can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the tub. It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen any significant Republican candidate who didn’t promote this agenda, although they’re rarely honest about it.

    I might add, Democrats have been agonizingly slow to realize what they’re facing with this agenda, or worse, they’ve signed off on certain aspects of it.


    You’re right to some extent that many Republican platform planks violate basic tenets of conservatism. The drive to revise history is a particularly ironic violation of conservative principles. I try to make the distinction but the problem is that references to Republicans instead of conservatives gives the discussion a partisan flavor that in my case isn’t applicable- I’m liberal, but not a Democrat.

    In some ways conservatives have the same problem Liberals have, we’ve both let the religious right define who we are.

    The other problem is, like it or not, this Republican agenda did emerge from the conservative end of the political spectrum.

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