Dayton’s slim lead likely will trigger recount

Gubernatorial candidates Tom Emmer, left, and Mark Dayton greet supporters early Wednesday morning.
MinnPost photos by Bill Kelley/Terry Gydesen
Gubernatorial candidates Tom Emmer, left, and Mark Dayton greet supporters early Wednesday morning.

As the sun was rising over Minnesota, the key number in the governor’s race becomes about 11,000.

That’s the magic number that would trigger a recount in the race between DFLer Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer.

With about 98 percent of precincts reporting, Dayton held a lead of about 9,000 votes, and the chairmen of both parties, the DFL’s Brian Melendez and the Republicans’ Tony Sutton, said they’re “ready” to begin the recount process.

Dayton was polling at 43.67 per cent, Emmer at 43.18. The only clarity in the race is that the Independence Party’s Tom Horner is out of the running, with slightly less than 12 percent of the vote.

Given the inconclusive results in the governor’s race, the big news of the election is that for the first time in 38 years, the Republicans took control of both the state Senate and the House. At least three of the legislative races could end up requiring recounts.

It wasn’t until about 11 p.m. Tuesday night that eyes of party insiders moved from the governor’s race to the legislative races. DFLers began falling like leaves from autumn trees.

It is these races that will have fingers being pointed in all directions among DFLers. How could they lose so many legislative seats in one night? Who was at fault?

Certainly, the Republican legislative triumphs belied the “ain’t we somethin’ ” optimism of DFLers earlier in the night Tuesday.

From Sen. Amy Klobuchar to Dayton himself, the DFLers had talked of how “Minnesota is bucking a trend’’ of the Republican sweep that was moving across the country.

In the aftermath, DFLers didn’t know whether to laugh or cry this time, so they did a little of both.

Yes, for the first time in nearly a quarter-century, the party hoped it had elected a governor, though at 2 o’clock this morning, nothing was certain.

“Cautiously optimistic,” Mark Dayton told the handful of the faithful still at the Minneapolis Hilton, urging them to head home to await final results.

At the time Dayton made his remarks, he had a slight lead over Republican Tom Emmer.

Most of the uncounted votes were expected to be coming in from Iron Range cities, long friendly to the DFL and especially to Dayton and his running mate, Yvonne Prettner Solon, a former DFL legislator with deep roots in the region. It was this region that gave him and Solon a 1-point primary election victory over Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who had come out of the DFL’s state convention with the party’s endorsement.

Dayton, of course,  would become the first DFLer to move into the governor’s office since 1986.

The loss of the Legislature, however, could mean that Minnesotans voted for a massive flip-flop on Election Day: legislative power to Republicans, the governor’s power to a DFLer. Such a scenario would lead to the strong possibility that the “Gov. Veto’’ mantel would be placed on Dayton.

Emmer, reasonably enough, was not conceding anything as night turned to morning.

Dayton seemed calm.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” he told the smattering of people left in the massive ballroom. “I’ll write you all notes so you don’t have to go to work in the morning.”

He didn’t even try to address the stunning blows the DFL had sustained in legislative races across the state.

Instead, he addressed his own situation — and the success of several Democratic congressional races in Minnesota.

“We bucked a national trend,” he said.

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Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Joseph Skar on 11/03/2010 - 05:43 am.

    So in retrospect is this the biggest failure of overall political reporting in the history of the state. Both the State House and Senate go republican, Chip Cravaack wins, and no matter who wins the Governor’s race all the polls except SUSA was off by greater the 5 points. Epic Failure!

  2. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/03/2010 - 07:18 am.

    Although I supported Horner. Epic failure is the fact that Rep Emmer could not drag himself over the finish line in an epic GOP election.

  3. Submitted by Joseph Skar on 11/03/2010 - 07:38 am.

    Richard how is Emmer the issue? It would appear that he beat expectations by 8-10 points. The only thing that saved Dayton was that the IP went conservative. Does the Governor really matter at this point? What is Dayton’s recourse when the legislature doesn’t pass tax increase? Dayton = Neutered!

  4. Submitted by John Sinna on 11/03/2010 - 08:08 am.

    The House and Senate flip is amazing, simply amazing. I didn’t vote for Dayton, but now that his most foolish ideas are DOA it might be fun to have the strange little man in office…at least it would be entertaining.

  5. Submitted by Jeff Michaels on 11/03/2010 - 08:12 am.

    Just ten days ago, the Minnesota Poll claimed Mark Dayton was ahead by a whopping seven- percentage point. I trust the Star Tribune will have the decency to get out of the polling business.

  6. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/03/2010 - 08:19 am.

    When I went to bed last night, Hennepin county was reporting 200k more votes than registered voters, so it looks like the Democrat machine was well oiled and finely tuned, but I’m with John.

    Although how the GOP could send the Democrat legislature to the wood chipper and elect a leftist Governor is a mystery, the prospect of watching Dayton bumble his way to a meltdown promises a lot of much needed levity.

  7. Submitted by Dave Kopesky on 11/03/2010 - 08:47 am.

    I am not an Emmer supporter but now wish he had won so the Republicans could show us how they will end the 6 billion dollar deficit while cutting taxes. They control both houses of the legislature and now we will see how easy it is to cut the 6 billion in “fat” out of government. They will not be able to just be obstructionists -they will have to come up with real proposals. And what does it say about Emmer that in the midst of this Republican tide he could not beat an old liberal Democrat like Dayton?

  8. Submitted by Tim Walker on 11/03/2010 - 10:07 am.

    I hope Gov. Dayton vetoes any budget bill from the GOP-controlled Legislature that does not include tax increases (especially on upper-income folks) to balance the next budget.

    This would, of course, be a page right out of Gov. Pawlenty’s playbook. He stared down the DFL-controlled Legislature last year with this tactic, and the DFL-ers blinked, i.e., caved in.

    They did so to avoid a government shutdown, which the mainstream media was all geared up to blame on the Legislature.

    So, I hope Gov. Dayton plays the Pawlenty game. Tit for tat and all that.

    But who would the mainstream media blame for such a shutdown this time around? The new Gov.?

    Yeah, right.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/03/2010 - 10:10 am.

    Stupid is as stupid does. When historians write obituary of the United States I wonder if they’ll realize that the single greatest factor was the stupidity of the electorate?

    Your biggest issue is the economy, and the debt. Soooooo you vote for the party that creates deficits and trashed the economy? Sure. Now a government that doesn’t do anything will create jobs.

  10. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/03/2010 - 12:09 pm.

    Joe, My expectations for Rep. Emmer were apparently higher than yours. Which in my opinion should have been 1 to 3 points over Dayton in this GOP friendly climate. Although I would have not put money on it, those were ‘my’ expectations.

    I felt his message was solid and clearly it dove tailed with the GOP theme in this election. As many of my conservative friends have pointed out; Emmer was running against one the most liberal DFL candidates in recent history. If Emmer couldn’t win now, in the most favorable GOP climate in years, when can he?

  11. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/03/2010 - 01:02 pm.

    And there it is; the anthem of the scary smart, reality based community (#9).

    “It’s a trail to our noble souls and an insult to our intellects, this having to share air with the ignorant masses.”

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