Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton has been projected by the Associated Press as the winner of the Democratic primary for governor of Minnesota, setting up an amazing comeback as he faces Republican state Rep. Tom Emmer in the race to succeed retiring GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty. But it's not quite over yet -- in a state that already had one high-profile recount in the last few years, Dayton has not declared victory, and his main opponent has not conceded.
Read More →
With 98% of precincts reporting, Dayton has 41%, state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher 40% -- a raw vote lead of only about 5,000 for Dayton -- and former state House Dem Leader Matt Entenza 18%. Kelliher was the officially endorsed candidate of the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party convention -- an endorsement that should have traditionally given her the nomination with her opponents dropping out. But Dayton and Entenza fought it out in the primary, with each aided by his personal wealth.
The polls going into this primary gave Dayton a double-digit lead. However, Kelliher clearly benefited immensely from the state DFL's get-out-the-vote machine, which is well organized for winning primaries for an endorsed candidate through the work of the state party and organized labor, and she swept through the Twin Cities area. However, Dayton had the endorsement of the steelworkers union, which delivered him a big margin in the Iron Range region up north, and he won other areas of the state as well.
As of late last night, Kelliher had not conceded, telling her supporters to wait for the final votes to come in. Dayton told his own supporters, "We're definitely not declaring victory," and also added: "I totally respect Speaker Kelliher wanting to wait until all of the votes are counted."