Dayton: 'The next governor should take office on Jan. 3'

Democrat Mark Dayton says he thinks any likely recount in the governor's race should be finished by the middle of December.

Dayton currently leads Republican Tom Emmer by just over 8,700 votes in unofficial results, a small enough margin to trigger an automatic recount.

On MPR's Midday program, Dayton said other major election disputes, like the 2000 recount between George W. Bush and Al Gore in Florida, finished in a shorter time period.

"I'm ahead now by I think it's by 0.43 percent. President Bush won Florida by 0.0092 percent," he noted.

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As Dayton starts to press for quick action on the recount, he's also trying to start assembling his transition team and administration. He said he's working on two tracks -- preparing to take office and assemble a team to monitor the recount.

"It's sort of like driving the car the way you're not supposed to -- one foot on the gas pedal and the other on the brake," he said. "I believe strongly that the next governor, whether it's Representative Emmer or myself, should take office on January 3rd."

Dayton is scheduled to do at least two TV interviews in the next few days. Emmer hasn't spoken publicly since Election Night.

Carl Kuhl, Emmer's spokesman, said on Friday that Emmer was traveling with his son to Neepawa, Manitoba, where he would watch his son's hockey game on Saturday and return to Minnesota on Sunday.

"Tom is with his family," said Carl Kuhl, Emmer's spokesman. "It's been a grueling 16 months on the campaign trail for him and the family and he's just spending some time these last few days reconnecting."

Kuhl said Emmer has held private meetings with attorneys to discuss the recount and is also starting to make plans to organize a transition team. Kuhl also said Emmer is committed to seeing the recount through despite the steep hill that some elections experts suggest Emmer has to climb to win the race.

"There's a process in place here for counting the votes and certifying the results and then if it continues to hold, which we believe it will, for the recount to take place under law," he said. "And we intend to see the law through."

Kuhl said he expects Emmer to make several public appearances next week.


Meanwhile, DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has scheduled a time line for a recount. He said counties will present their official results to the State Canvassing Board on November 23. At that time, a recount would be ordered if the margin is less than one half of one percent of the total votes cast. Local elections officials would then go through the process of re-counting the votes on November 29. Ritchie said he hopes to have the recount finished by December 14. Ritchie has suggested that every part of the recount will be done in a transparent way.

What may not be so transparent is who pays for the lawyers, spokespersons and other recount efforts. The Minnesota Campaign Finance Board issued an advisory Thursday that said candidates and their supporters could set up recount funds that aren't subject to state disclosure or contribution limits.

"Money can come in from all sorts of sources and under Minnesota law there would be no disclosure and it will come in from sources that are in Minnesota and presumably outside of Minnesota," said Gary Goldsmith, executive director of the Campaign Finance Board. "The statute does not provide for disclosure of that money."

The ruling concerns Mike Dean, executive director of the government watchdog group Common Cause Minnesota. Dean said he's concerned that outside groups could give an unlimited amount of money to either drag out the recount or work to win favor with the next governor.

"We need to know who is trying to influence the next governor," Dean said. "And unfortunately with all of this additional money flowing into the system, we're not going to have any means to know who is spending money."

Dean said there are few options available to change the ruling. He said he could file a lawsuit but he said that's an expensive proposition that may not work.