Listen Tom Horner's victory speech
Aug 10, 2010
Listen Emmer talks with MPR's Annie Baxter
Aug 10, 2010
Listen Entenza concedes
Aug 10, 2010
Listen Kelliher: Not ready to concede
Listen Dayton: Not ready to declare victory
Mark Dayton appears to have won the DFL nomination for Minnesota governor by several thousand votes, but opponent Margaret Anderson Kelliher said she won't concede until all the votes are counted.
With 97 percent of the precincts reporting, Dayton had 177,920 votes, or 41 percent; Kelliher had 173,428 votes, or 40 percent -- a difference of about 4,500 votes.
Kelliher, the DFL-endorsed candidate, spoke to a crowd of cheering supporters at 12:40 a.m. Wednesday and told them she's not ready to concede defeat.
"It's been a long night, and it's going to be a little bit longer night," she said. "So we're not making any decisions."
Shortly after Kelliher spoke, Dayton said he's not yet declaring victory.
"I totally respect, given how close this is, that she wants to wait until every vote is counted," Dayton said.
Matt Entenza finished a distant third in the race, with 18 percent of the vote.
Dayton's margin of victory appears to be above the threshold for a mandatory recount. State law requires an automatic recount if the margin of victory is less than one-half of 1 percent of the total votes cast, which would be about 2,100 votes.
Assuming the results hold up, Dayton will face Republican state Rep. Tom Emmer and the Independence Party's Tom Horner in November. GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty didn't seek a third term.
Dayton has promised a new top tax bracket to help deal with a massive deficit. Emmer says he'd balance the books through spending cuts alone.
Kelliher, the House Speaker, had hoped to become Minnesota's first female governor.
But Dayton relied on personal wealth and name recognition to beat Kelliher and the race's top spender, Matt Entenza.
Entenza conceded defeat earlier in the evening, after trailing his two opponents in early returns. The former state legislator spent more than $5 million on the race.
Kelliher led Dayton for most of the night. Dayton finally took the lead near midnight on late returns from northeastern Minnesota's union-strong Iron Range.
The Dayton name is widely known in Minnesota, where the former senator's great-grandfather opened a dry goods store that ultimately grew into Target Corp. Dayton, 63, also has a lengthy past in Minnesota politics.
Dayton won elections as state auditor in 1990 and for the Senate seat in 2000. He lost a race for Senate in 1982 and a Democratic primary for governor in 1998. He served in the cabinet of Minnesota's last Democratic governor, Rudy Perpich.
Dayton spent $12 million of his own money toward his Senate victory a decade ago, and already has supplied his campaign with $3.3 million this time around.
At the outset of this campaign, Dayton revealed he had long suffered from mild depression and taken medication for it.
A recovering alcoholic, he also disclosed that he slipped late in his Senate term and sought treatment in 2007. He said he has been sober since and insisted neither issue would hinder his competence to lead the state.
On the Republican side, State Rep. Tom Emmer coasted to an easy victory in his primary race. Emmer's win was never in doubt, but polls have shown him trailing all three of the Democrats who were running, as he tries to extend Republicans' eight-year hold on the governor's office.
Emmer revved up his supporters during a brief victory speech at O'Gara's Bar and Grill in St. Paul.
"Are you ready to work?" he said, as the crowd cheered. "Are you ready to win? Are you ready to take back your state?"
Earlier in the evening, Annette Meeks, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, said she's looking forward to the general election campaign.
"It's one thing to run against someone with a record, as opposed to a theoretical opponent," Meeks told MPR News. "And I think that's going to help us immensely."
Independence Party candidate Tom Horner easily won the Independence Party's gubernatorial nomination over Rob Hahn and several other candidates.
Horner told supporters at his campaign headquarters in Plymouth that he's ready to take on the Republican and DFL candidates in this fall's election.
"We're going to give Minnesota a way to say we want a different future," he said. "We want to invest, we want a budget that's balanced honestly, that is balanced transparently, that takes a responsible approach to spending, that says government does have to be efficient, effective."
Horner said he hopes to raise $2.5 million to pay for his campaign. He said he's confident the campaign will gain steam after Labor Day as voters begin to pay closer attention to the governor's race.