Another recount? Governor's race is that close

Mark Dayton
Mark Dayton and Yvonne Prettner Solon address the crowd at the Minneapolis Hilton in Minneapolis, Minn. early Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

The tight gubernatorial election appears to be headed for a recount, with fewer than 10,000 votes separating DFLer Mark Dayton from Republican Tom Emmer with nearly all the votes counted.

On Wednesday morning, Dayton had 44 percent to Emmer's 43 percent with 19 precincts yet to report results. Dayton led Emmer by 9,257 votes.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie planned a news conferece Wednesday morning to talk about the possible recount.

Republican leaders also planned a news conference Wednesday morning. One of the attorneys who represented Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in the 2008 Senate recount was expected to speak.

"We're going to be very vigilant as to, if there is a recount, as to the process of that recount," State GOP Chairman Tony Sutton said. "We're going to be very aggressive in making sure that the procedures are being followed correctly."

Minnesota law requires that all ballots be recounted if the margin of victory is less than one half of 1 percent of all votes tallied. A vote difference of about 11,000 or less would likely trigger a recount.

Waiting for results
Carrie Tinucci catches some sleep on the shoulder of her husband John Tinucci at the Minneapolis Hilton in Minneapolis, Minn. early Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

DFL Chairman Brian Melendez said it just wasn't clear when the governor's race would be decided. Melendez said he's ready for another recount if it's necessary.

"Well, we've done this before. We know how to do it," Melendez said. "They're not fun. They're messy. But if that's what it takes to win this election, then we'll do it."

Dayton had a comfortable lead early in the evening, but Emmer gained ground as the night wore on. The Independence Party's Tom Horner conceded the election earlier in the evening with about 12 percent of the vote.

The 2008 recount in the U.S. Senate race between Coleman and Al Franken took eight months to resolve. Ritchie, who oversaw the Senate recount, won re-election Tuesday night.

Dayton and Emmer briefly addressed their supporters early Wednesday morning, but neither candidate conceded the election.

Emmer speaks to supporters
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, with his wife Jackie, speaks to supporters early Wednesday morning while awaiting final results in the governor's race.
MPR Photo/Caroline Yang

"We're not quite done yet," Emmer told a cheering crowd at the Sheraton Hotel in Bloomington.

Emmer told the crowd he remains confident that he will pull ahead in the tight race.

"Keep the faith," Emmer said. "We're very encouraged. The numbers are moving in the right direction."

Dayton spoke to his supporters in the ballroom of the Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis at 2 a.m., less than an hour after Emmer's remarks.

"Sorry to keep you waiting," he said. "We wish things were proceeding faster than they are."

Sen. Al Franken
Sen. Al Franken speaks to the crowd at the DFL victory party in Minneapolis, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. Franken won his Senate seat after an eight-month recount process. The governor's race might end up in the same situation.
MPR Photo/Nate Ryan

The DFL candidate told the crowd he's optimistic that strong returns in northern Minnesota will be enough to secure victory.

Dayton thanked supporters and added, "I'll write you all notes who have to go to work tomorrow morning."

Earlier in the evening, Horner thanked supporters gathered at the Sheraton West hotel in Minnetonka. He said despite his loss, the campaign succeeded in sending a powerful message.

"I think what we really showed Minnesota is that there is a center to Minnesota politics," he said. "There are more Minnesotans who are eager to look beyond partisan interests .... (and) to look beyond whether they are Democratic or Republican solutions and start focusing on Minnesota solutions."

Polls in recent weeks showed Dayton edging slightly ahead of Emmer and Horner running a distant third.

Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty opted not to seek a third term, amid speculation of a 2012 presidential run.

(MPR reporters Tim Pugmire and Tom Scheck contributed to this report.)

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