Lone Governor's Race Remains Undecided

For the second consecutive election cycle, Minnesotans will be subject to a recount in a major statewide race, as Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer wait to find out which man will be the next governor. Dayton currently leads by about 9,000 votes, or less than half of a percentage point, in the race to succeed outgoing Republican Tim Pawlenty, who is rumored to be considering a presidential run two years from now.

In 2008, a recount involving incumbent then-U.S. Senator Norm Coleman, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger, former comedian Al Franken, dragged on for months before Franken eventually was declared the winner — by 312 votes, an amazingly small number for a statewide race in any state. Franken's victory gave Democrats their crucial 60th seat in the Senate.

This time around, some Republicans privately admit that they don't believe Emmer can close the gap on Dayton, according to the Minnesota Star-Tribune and other news outlets in the state. But there may be larger strategies to consider. "Prolonging the recount fight long enough to keep Republican Pawlenty in office an extra few weeks with a newly GOP-led Legislature would be a welcome bonus," the Star-Tribune notes in an article today (November 10).

"When the Legislature convenes in January, Republican legislators will sweep into power with a laundry list of possible targets for early passage, including modest tax cuts, some surgical budget cuts and even a high-profile effort to keep Minnesota out of President Obama's controversial health care overhaul," the paper reports. "Pawlenty has said he doesn't expect or want to his run as governor to be extended, but he stopped short of saying he would refuse to sign legislation that landed on his desk."

Recounts are expensive, and both sides in the race know their fundraising days aren't over yet. Dayton's camp told the Star-Tribune that it might need to raise up to $2 million for the recount and any subsequent court battles.

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