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Amid meeting with governor and political planning, Mark Dayton is juggling ‘real-life decisions,’ too

Mark Dayton greeted the press following his meeting on Tuesday with Gov. Pawlenty.

MinnPost photo by Terry Gydesen
Mark Dayton greeted the press following his meeting on Tuesday with Gov. Pawlenty.

Amid the meetings with the governor and selecting transition teams and recount teams and dealing occasionally with the media, real life does go on for the people who would be governor.

The most-likely-governor-elect, Mark Dayton, for example, is dealing with the life-and-death decisions around one of his 8½-year-old German shepherds, Dakota. The dog has cancer, has undergone surgery and on Wednesday is to begin chemotherapy with University of Minnesota vets.


“Without chemo, she can live one to three months,” Dayton said today. “They tell me she can make it six months with chemo. … We’re starting treatment tomorrow [Wednesday]. Then, I’ll have to make the decision what sort of a quality of life she’s having.”

Truth be told, the decisions around Dakota likely are the most emotional Dayton is making these days.

Those other decisions — around recounts and legal processes and starting to at least think about who might be offered positions in his administration — are daunting but will be made from the head more than the heart.

Dayton did meet late this afternoon with Gov. Tim Pawlenty, an hour-long discussion that he said was “gracious” and “respectful.”

Pawlenty, who had a similar meeting with Tom Emmer on Monday, shared his thoughts on the state of the budget. He made his administration available to Dayton and even offered to take him on a tour of the governor’s mansion.

Dayton, who once worked in the administration of Gov. Rudy Perpich, said the last time he was at the mansion was probably around 1990 — and even then, he said, he can’t recall ever seeing the second floor, the residential portion of the building.

Dayton seems at peace at where things are in this process.

His substantial lead makes him confident that he will be governor, although he says, for the record, “I’m not presuming or claiming anything. … But I’m devoting all my waking hours assuming I’ll be elected governor. I assume Rep. Emmer is doing the same.”

But Dayton also seemed to gently draw a couple of lines in the sand.

Given the closeness of the race, the recount process should proceed, he said.

But, after the canvass and the recount, which Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says should be concluded by Dec. 14, Dayton made it clear that he thinks Emmer should step aside, assuming the numbers favor Dayton as clearly as they do now.

Unless there are “extraordinary circumstances,” Dayton said he believes that it would be wrong for Emmer to challenge recount tallies in court.  He quickly added that he is expecting no different behavior of Emmer from what he would expect of himself.

Emmer hasn’t said what he might do following the recount, although the Republican Party has been rattling challenge sabers for a week.

Dayton again cast aspersions on those who “cast aspersions” on the recount process, with no evidence of wrongdoing.

Dayton also seemed to mildly challenge the Legislature, which will be in Republican hands when the session begins in January.

Assuming he is governor, he will present his budget, and it will be up to the Legislature to counter with one of its own.

“Then we’ll begin to negotiate,” he said.

But, as he did throughout the campaign, Dayton noted that cuts in spending Republicans may want to make “are about real Minnesotans who have needs.”

But all of that lies down a recount road that Minnesotans are getting used to following.

Dayton did say that if the recount process is completed by Dec. 14, and if his lead holds and if there are no challenges, he believes there still will be time to put together his administration in a transparent way. He still hopes to have “stakeholders”question prospective commissioners.

Meanwhile, he said, he may begin to at least tentatively offer positions in his administration.

“I can tell someone they’ll have my offer if I’m elected governor,” he said.

So, what should we call Dayton in the meantime?  He’s not officially the governor-elect, although the odds still clearly favor him.

“Call me Mark,” he said.

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

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Roger Iverson on 11/10/2010 - 07:40 am.

    As Minnesotans, we are all weary of the Franken/Coleman recount and the dragged out court battles. We were left without a senator for way too long. Now, more than ever, we need this election to be certified and Governor Dayton on the job for us. Enough already!

  2. Submitted by Howard Salute on 11/10/2010 - 12:27 pm.

    “Without chemo, she can live one to three months,” Dayton said today. “They tell me she can make it six months with chemo. …

    He has the right to spend his money as he sees fit. But Mark, you are spending how much money to extend your dog’s life by three months?? We all love our pets….but this is a dog.

    And this is a guy who will be shaping public policy on health care?

  3. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 11/10/2010 - 12:56 pm.

    Dayton is farther ahead of Emmer than Franken was ahead of Coleman, but the Republicans are itching for a chance to go full bore on their ideology of pampering the wealthy and “punishing” the poor. Having a Democratic governor with veto power will put a crimp in their rush to return Minnesota to the Victorian era.

  4. Submitted by Lance Groth on 11/10/2010 - 01:05 pm.

    Howard, with all due respect, Dayton’s decision about treatment for his sick dog is none of your business. The money he chooses to spend or not spend is his, it’s not public money, and it has no bearing on health care or any aspect of Dayton’s role as Governor, and this is nothing for you to try to politicize. I don’t know what’s wrong with people that they obsess about money, particularly when it’s someone else’s private finances and strictly personal decision.

    Many of us with companion animals do not consider them “just dogs”. In my case, as someone with parrots who are very dear to me, I would spare no expense on their care, and if anyone chose to criticize my decision about my money and my companion, I would quickly invite them to shut the frak up. From my point of view, Dayton’s concern about his dog shows him to be a caring and compassionate human being. That is exactly the kind of person I want making decisions about things like health care.

    Let’s keep politics confined to legitimately political issues, and allow everyone, including the next Governor, to live their private lives in private, without cheap shots from the peanut gallery.

  5. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/10/2010 - 01:11 pm.

    Actually, Karen, Coleman was ahead of Franken, and as the Senator* proved, winning is only a matter of putting the numbers where you want them.

  6. Submitted by Lance Groth on 11/10/2010 - 02:34 pm.

    A serious question for you, Mr. Swift – do you actually believe what you said about “putting the numbers where you want them”?

    The Franken recount was a model for how to do a recount openly and honestly – as has been the tradition for elections in Minnesota generally – and involved officials from both parties. No one except the Tony Suttons of the world genuinely believe the recount was rigged – and even Sutton only says what he says because it’s his job.

    I understand that you feel you have to carry water for the Repub side, but really, the Franken recount was the polar opposite of the debacle in Florida, and it undermines your credibility to make these wild assertions in the face of all evidence. I’m sure you’ll trot out the felons thing as if it were evidence of a dem conspiracy, but we both know what a load of peanut butter that is. You guys won in 2010 – can’t you drop the hyperbole for 5 minutes and stop casting the Minnesota electoral process as rigged when you know it isn’t? You know, show a little grace? Hmmm?

  7. Submitted by Sid Korpi on 11/10/2010 - 04:48 pm.

    I am an animal chaplain who works with people to help them prepare for, cope with and move on after pet loss. My heart goes out to the Daytons at this trying time. None of what happens with Dakota should be reduced to talks of fiscal responsibility. It is all about Dayton’s compassion and affection for a member of his family, albeit one with four legs instead of two. When I wrote my book, “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” I discovered it is often more difficult for people to work through their grief over the death of an animal than it is over that of some humans with whom they spend substantially less time. This is in large part because our society doesn’t give us permission to fully grieve the loss of a “mere” animal. Saying “It’s just a dog” is a prime example of that compassion deficit that makes pet owners feel there’s something wrong with them if, when a beloved companion animal with whom they’ve spend a great deal of time dies, they feel a tremendous impact on their emotional lives. My heart goes out to the Daytons and Dakota. I hope the quality of life Dakota is experiencing will help make Mr. Dayton’s future decisions a bit easier to make.

  8. Submitted by Lynda Friedman on 11/10/2010 - 04:58 pm.

    As a former Minnesota resident living in Florida, I loved MinnPost’s coverage (through the Uptake) of the Franken/Coleman recount process and legal fights. Sure proved Minnesota voters may make errors (some of them very funny), but the whole process is nearly fraud-free. For the Swifts and Suttons who seek to sow seeds of doubt about elections, it seems like a poor strategy to take just when you gain control. Do you really want Minnesota residents to question all the results of the most recent election? Or did the “unapproved” just register/vote in the Governor’s race?

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