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.