Recount may be needed to determine Gov. race

Democrat Mark Dayton holds a .42 percent lead on Republican opponent Tom Emmer – grounds for an automatic recount.

Recount may be needed to determine Gov. race

Conor Shine

Minnesota could face another recount as the Governor’s race remains too close to call. 

DFL nominee Mark Dayton leads his Republican opponent Tom Emmer by less than one half of a percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State. The difference between the two candidates – 43.63 percent of votes to 43.21 percent – is grounds for an automatic recount. 

Tom Horner, the Independence Party candidate, trails with almost 12 percent, and conceded at his campaign party.

With Horner out and the election a toss-up between Dayton and Emmer, a lengthy recount could require Gov. Tim Pawlenty to extend his term.

“My administration is fully committed and prepared to accomplish the swift and orderly transition to the next governor as soon as a final determination is made,” Pawlenty said Wednesday in a statement. “As required by Article V of the Minnesota Constitution, I will continue to serve as Governor until a new governor takes the oath.âÄù

The Minnesota Republican Party is ready to fight for Emmer’s place at the table. They’re more prepared this time around than they were for the 2008 Senate recount, Chair Tony Sutton said in a press event.

“We’re not going to get rolled this time,” he said.

The potential recount should move quickly due to ballot law changes  and revamped voter tracking systems coupled with recent experience handling tight races, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said.

âÄúWe do believe that our part of the process, the recount itself, will take significantly less time and thatâÄôs our intention,âÄù he said.

County canvassers will re-check ballot counts and present their findings to the State Canvassing Board on Nov. 23. If the margin of votes  between Dayton and Emmer is less than half of one percent according to the official results, a recount paid for using taxpayer money is automatically triggered, Ritchie said. If the losing candidate doesn’t decline a recount, it would begin the following week.

In the event the vote margin is above the necessary percentage, the losing candidate can pay for a recount.  

The Dayton campaign scheduled a press conference on the subject for 2 p.m.

DFLers were optimistic about DaytonâÄôs chances to win early Tuesday night, when the former U.S. Senator had a double-digit lead. Shortly before midnight, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., addressed the crowd at the election night celebration and said Dayton would appear soon.

“It looks incredibly good for Mark Dayton tonight,” Klobuchar said.

But DaytonâÄôs margin, which had narrowed over the course of the night, slipped into dangerous territory for the DFL shortly following her speech. An announcement from Republican Party of Minnesota chairman Tony Sutton assured the fight was not over.

Representatives of the Republican Party stationed at the Hennepin County attorneyâÄôs office reported ballots had been double counted, meaning numbers posted by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie could be off by as many as 60,000 votes.

“Back in the war room weâÄôve got the race for governor down to three points,” Sutton said. “We canâÄôt trust the results coming in, so weâÄôre tracking them ourselves.”

This comes after an Election Day marked by efforts from officials and voters to avoid voter fraud and put the memory of the contested 2008 Senate election behind them.

For University of Minnesota third-year Rebecca Doepke “itâÄôs been nerve-wracking.”

“YouâÄôre watching the election and Emmer is down and then you hear about the 60,000 vote swing and you just get that wave of hope back again,” Doepke said.

Republicans celebrated taking control of the U.S. House, as well as big gains in the state Legislature.

Emmer addressed the crowd at about 1:30 a.m.

“ItâÄôs been a wonderful night all across the country and in the state of Minnesota for Republicans,” he said. “WeâÄôre not quite done here in Minnesota when it comes to the governorâÄôs race.”

Dayton appeared at about 2 a.m. to thank supporters for remaining.

Although he had little new information, Dayton attempted to inspire hope. “We are still here standing,” he said.

But steep legislative losses also flew in the face of earlier optimism.

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said she was confident in turning her authority over to a DFL counterpart. “I think weâÄôre bucking a trend in Minnesota,” she said.

Just hours later, the Associated Press projected Republicans could regain control of the Minnesota House and Senate.

Betsy Hammer, a student in the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and a Dayton supporter, called this a “landmark election.”

“There is such a big difference in the candidates this year, itâÄôs a pretty clear choice,” she said.

The three candidatesâÄô platforms differed greatly throughout the campaign. Dayton said he would use income taxes on high earners to help chisel away at the stateâÄôs projected $6 billion budget deficit. Emmer opposed any new taxes, saying he would instead cut state funding and reform government to fill the gap. Horner attempted to find a middle ground, a position he emphasized at the candidatesâÄô more than two dozen debates.

Independence Party candidate Tom Horner conceded the race shortly after 10:30 p.m.

“ItâÄôs been a great opportunity and a great honor to take on the mantle of the Independence Party,” he said. “I do want to let whoever wins this race know IâÄôm certainly standing by, ready to work with that person to build a better Minnesota.”

Horner promised to continue the work his campaign started, and said his supporters could celebrate a victory knowing they impacted the election.

“I think what we really showed Minnesota is that there is a center to Minnesota politics,” he said. “There are more Minnesotans who are eager to look beyond partisan interests, to look beyond whether they are Democratic solutions or Republican solutions and start focusing on Minnesota solutions.”

Horner supporter Dan Goldman said he hopes the next governor will borrow some of the principles Horner ran on, specifically bipartisanship.

“If anything, itâÄôs the idea that we can try and bridge the gap between the two parties to come to a consensus,” he said.

Former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson said whoever wins the governorâÄôs race should take a close look at HornerâÄôs budget proposal.

“The Dayton numbers have never added up, you canâÄôt get your way out of this pickle by âÄòtaxing the rich.âÄô ThatâÄôs absurd,” Carlson said. “The Emmer idea that weâÄôre going to cut $6 billion âÄî he knows darn well we canâÄôt [do that].”