Gov. Dayton OK after collapsing in middle of State of the State speech

Dayton 2017 State of the State Address
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton waves to the legislators and others gathered at the beginning of his annual state of the state Address in the House Chambers of the State Capitol in St. Paul Monday. Dayton collapsed about 40 minutes into the address, but revived soon after and walked out of the chambers on his own.
Scott Takushi | Pioneer Press via AP

Updated: 9:22 p.m. | Posted: 8:08 p.m.

Gov. Mark Dayton collapsed during his State of the State address Monday night, ending the speech early.

A news release from the governor's office Monday night said the governor "quickly recovered, walked out of the Capitol and returned home."

Several State of the State address attendees, including Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Secretary of State Scott Simon, rushed to Dayton's aid as he collapsed.

Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, a doctor, was one of two medical professionals in the Senate who responded immediately when the governor fell. He said the governor was in stable condition shortly after the event. Sen. Dan Schoen, who is also a paramedic, was among those who went to Dayton's aid; he said Dayton was acting normally within 20 minutes of the collapse and poking fun at himself.

Eric Dayton, the governor's son, said on Twitter that he was with his dad and "he's doing great." Reporters on the scene observed Dayton joking as he walked off.

Dayton, 69, had paused his speech to take a drink of water. He seemed to waver a bit, and then collapsed, apparently hitting his head before falling to the floor.

He revived and left the chamber on his own. Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka moved to adjourn the speech.

The release from Dayton's office said that EMTs "performed a routine check" once he returned home, and that "he is now spending time with his son and grandson."

The governor fell about three-fourths of the way through the speech, as he laid out the opening salvo in a brewing battle with Republican legislative majorities over where to bring the state after November's elections, including his proposal for a state-run public health care option for all Minnesota residents.

Dayton appeared to stumble as he first entered the House chamber, but joked it away, saying he should have attended the walkthrough. But he appeared to lose his place in his remarks roughly 40 minutes into his speech, trailing off in the middle of a sentence before pausing to take a long drink of water for a bottle he had below the lectern.

Dayton 2017 State of the State Address
Minnesota Lt. Governor Tina Smith, right, and Secretary of State Steve Simon, left, help Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton after he collapsed during his State of the State address in St. Paul on Monday. House Speaker Kurt Daudt said minutes after the incident that Dayton was "up and about" and that the governor would be OK.
Glen Stubbe | Star Tribune via AP

When he tried to resume his address, he spoke only a few slurred words before his shoulders appeared to shake and he crumbled behind the lectern, striking his head. A frantic voice could be heard over the microphone saying "get him to the ground. Get him to the ground please" as those around Dayton rushed to assist him.

Dayton was hospitalized last January after fainting at an event. He's had two spinal surgeries in the past four years and has often used a cane.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt and fellow Republican legislative leaders declined to comment on Dayton's speech, instead only offering their prayers for his health and safety.

"That's our whole focus right now, just praying for our governor," Gazelka said.

The governor turns 70 on Thursday. He intends to present his 2017 budget late Tuesday morning, as planned, according to the release from his office Monday night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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