Governor Race Still Up In The Air

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 at 7:15 am

Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer ran for more than a year to be Minnesota’s governor. On Wednesday (Nov. 3) morning, both men are still waiting on a too-close-to-call race that stirred memories of the state’s bitterly contested 2008 U.S. Senate election.

Dayton leads, but barely. With election returns in early Wednesday from all but 19 precincts statewide, Dayton led by 9,257 votes out of more than 1.8 million cast.

That’s a considerably bigger lead than the 475 votes that separated Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken in their Senate race the morning after Election Day 2008, but still within the margin that triggers an automatic recount under state law.

In the Senate race, Coleman and Franken were left waiting more than half a year past election day before the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Franken had won the election. Early Wednesday, state GOP leaders called a news conference for later in the morning with attorney Tony Trimble, a key member of Coleman’s 2008 recount legal team.

Dayton held a comfortable lead in early returns, but his lead shrank into the early morning hours. Emmer took the stage at a GOP rally for the first time at 1:30 a.m. to reassure supporters.

“We’re not quite done yet here in Minnesota, here in the governor’s race,” Emmer said according to the Associated Press. “We’re very encouraged. The numbers are moving in the right direction.”

Dayton, appearing a few minutes later at a Minneapolis hotel, thanked his supporters for “bucking a national trend.”

“I wish things were proceeding faster than they are, but that’s the nature of the process,” Dayton told the AP. “I thank you for your patience. I’ll write you all notes if you have to go to work tomorrow morning.”

If Dayton prevails, he faces a difficult road ahead, with Republicans capturing majorities in the state House and Senate after a long period of Democratic control. The next governor and Legislature must work together to solve a budget deficit expected to approach $6 billion.

Should the race move to a recount, it’s possible GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty — who didn’t seek a third term — could wind up serving longer than he planned.

(This report courtesy of the Associated Press)

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