Throughout 2017, Minnesota Public Radio will celebrate 50 years on the air by sharing highlights from our archives, connecting Minnesota's past to its present. | This conversation between MPR News host Bob Aronson and Mark Dayton originally aired May 5, 1981.
If you were born anytime in the past 35 years or so, you might not realize there was a time when Mark Dayton was not a full-time politician.
But when he kicked off his bid for the U.S. Senate in the spring of 1981, Dayton had never held public office.
He wasn't exactly a political outsider, though. He'd been an aide to U.S. Sen. Walter Mondale in the 1970s and served as Minnesota's economic development commissioner.
Dayton had also worked out of state as a teacher, an experience, he said, that influenced his politics.
"I've seen what's happened in other states that don't have the same commitment to education, human services and to the kind of quality of life that we treasure here in Minnesota," he told Morning Edition host Bob Aronson before announcing his Senate run.
In the interview, Dayton answered questions about his wealth and how it might give people the impression that he could buy the election. After all, he was a member of the Dayton's department store family. And he was married to a Rockefeller.
Dayton's response: He'd use traditional fundraising approaches and run a grassroots campaign.
The strategy worked, and he's since become one of Minnesota's longest-serving politicians. The governor turns 70 on Thursday.