The three major party candidates for governor traveled the state Monday, making one final pitch to voters before Election Day.
Republican Tom Emmer hit the trail by bus and plane on the final day of the campaign. The state representative from Delano was scheduled to hit 19 cities in 25 hours, so he needed both modes of transportation.
Emmer stepped off his bus at the St. Paul Airport to group of about 50 supporters. He was getting on the plane with Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who made several campaign stops with Emmer.
Pawlenty told the crowd to make the extra phone calls, send additional e-mails and knock on more doors on Emmer's behalf.
"If this turns out to be a close race, as I think it's going to be, those last 100 or 200 or 500 or 1,000 people across the state can make a big difference," Pawlenty said. "You're looking at someone who won by a whopping 1 percent."
Emmer told reporters that he's feeling confident heading into Election Day. He said the campaign strategy over the past week has been to outwork his opponents.
"It's important to show people that we are committed," Emmer said. "We are going to run right through the finish line."
The Emmer campaign is expecting to pick up heavy support in the northern and southern Twin Cities suburbs and hopes that offsets Dayton's expected support in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth and the Iron Range.
Emmer's campaign manager, Cullen Sheehan, said the key to the race may be Minnesota's larger rural cities and the western suburbs.
The western suburbs could be key because the Independence Party's Tom Horner is expected to do well there. If that's the case, it could hurt Emmer's chances. Pawlenty won that area four years ago by a margin of 12 percentage points.
DFL candidate Mark Dayton flew around the state Monday, with events in Duluth, Hibbing, Moorhead, Worthington, Rochester and the Twin Cities.
During a late morning rally at the Duluth International Airport, Dayton repeated his campaign pledges to make taxes fairer, invest in education and improve the economy.
"I won't rest until we've got every Minnesotan working at a good job, with good benefits and a pension they can rely on," Dayton said.
Northeastern Minnesota is a DFL stronghold that Dayton needs to win by large margins to help him pull off a statewide victory. But the 8th Congressional District race is much tighter than expected, with longtime Rep. Jim Oberstar, who also attended the Duluth rally, trying to hold off Republican Chip Cravaack.
Earlier in the day, Dayton said he thought a strong DFL get-out-the-vote effort in the 8th District will help him and Oberstar. He's also counting on the influence of his running mate, state Sen. Yvonne Prettner-Solon of Duluth. Still, Dayton said he wasn't taking anything for granted.
"It's trite but true, but I've always said the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day," Dayton said. "I assume nothing, presume nothing, just keep working very hard today and tonight, and then the people will decide tomorrow."
Behind the scenes, Dayton's campaign staff and the Minnesota DFL Party are trying to make sure the voters they need to win actually show up at the polls on Election Day. An army of volunteers is making telephone calls and knocking on doors throughout the state.
Dayton's campaign manager, Dana Anderson, described the get-out-the-vote effort as "huge" and "the best that anyone has seen." But she declined to give any specific numbers.
"The truth of the matter is we really have been unified since the primary, and people see that and they're really excited about it," Anderson said. "I think everybody feels good about where we're at in terms of numbers."
Anderson said campaign volunteers are working hard statewide. She specifically mentioned efforts in the 1st, 7th and 8th Congressional Districts.
The Horner campaign set out from St. Paul early Monday morning on three buses: one headed to northeastern Minnesota, another to the northwest and a third carrying Tom Horner to the south.
The first stops on that southern leg of Horner's get-out-the-vote push were in Cottage Grove. Horner and a group of supporters piled out of their bus and into a Caribou Coffee shop. The bus then ferried them all across the street to another strip mall and a Starbucks.
Horner said there was nothing particularly significant about him campaigning in southern Minnesota on the day before the election. Despite his relatively low standing in the polls, Horner is not giving up.
"This race isn't over," he said. "There are a huge number of undecided voters, a lot of soft supporters for both Mark Dayton and Tom Emmer. I need them to go out and vote their conscience."
Fighting the "wasted vote fear" has be central to Horner's campaign all along. Recent college graduate Kayla Cooper was pleasantly surprised to see Horner.
"I was really happy that he came in," she said.
Cooper said she's voting for Horner and she dismisses the notion that she'll be wasting her vote, citing Jesse Ventura's victory in 1998.
"I think Tom Horner is right there," she said. "I think he can do that."
Former Gov. Jesse Ventura has been largely absent from the Horner campaign, at least until Monday when he agreed to talk up Horner via telephone.
"If people want to shock the world from Minnesota, then election Tom Horner an independent that'll send shock waves just like it did in '98 when I won," Ventura said.
Ventura is one of three former Minnesota governors backing Horner. He said if Minnesotans really want change, they need to get away from Democrats and Republicans.
Ventura said he's only now begun campaigning for Horner because he's been busy producing his "Conspiracy Theory" TV show.
"I live in the private sector now. I had a show to do this summer. I was extremely busy. Imagine that concept. Plus, I don't want to be in the political arena anymore or I'd run myself," Ventura said.
The Horner campaign buses come back together at 9:30 p.m. for a final campaign rally at Midway Stadium in St. Paul.
Scheck and Pugmire reported from St. Paul, and Zdechlik reported from Cottage Grove.