Tom Emmer to concede Minnesota race for governor to Mark Dayton

Tom Emmer
Republican Tom Emmer said at a press conference on Friday, Dec. 3, 2010, that he expects his campaign will withdraw "a great deal" of challenged ballots in the recount for governor.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Republican Tom Emmer will concede the race for Minnesota governor to Democrat Mark Dayton, MPR News has learned.

A person with knowledge of Emmer's plans said Emmer will make the announcement Wednesday morning in his hometown of Delano.

Dayton spokeswoman Katherine Tinucci would not comment on the developments.

"We have not heard from the Emmer campaign this evening," she said.

Emmer's decision came on the same day the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an opinion that closed off a potential avenue for an election lawsuit.

Emmer trailed Dayton by nearly 9,000 votes heading into a recount that has changed little.

In the Supreme Court's decision, justices said local officials were within their power to use more than one method for pairing the number of votes and voters. In some places, officials count slips of paper known as voter receipts rather than count signatures in polling place rosters. The goal is to make sure vote tallies in precincts match the number of voters.

Republican volunteers challenged thousands of ballots during the recount, but most challenges were ruled frivolous by local election officials and ultimately almost all were withdrawn by both sides. That made the state canvassing board meeting due to start Wednesday all but academic.

Even some Republicans had said they hadn't seen anything that would have supported a successful legal challenge by Emmer, but Democrats had feared that the GOP would opt for a lawsuit just to keep Dayton out of office. That would have kept current GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty in office just as new Republican majorities were coming to power in the Legislature.

Dayton can now set up a more formal transition to power. He can start hiring personnel, make appointments and prepare a two-year budget that is projected to include a $6.2 billion budget deficit. He will be sworn into office on Jan. 3.

Dayton will become the first DFL governor elected since Rudy Perpich in 1986. He will have to resolve the budget deficit with both the House and Senate under Republican control.