Dayton lawyers question Pawlenty holdover status

Published 3:31 pm Friday, November 12, 2010

ST. PAUL, Minn.  — Democrat Mark Dayton’s lawyers say they don’t agree that Gov. Tim Pawlenty is constitutionally required to stay in office if the race to replace him isn’t resolved by early January.

Dayton attorney Charlie Nauen said Friday that his team believes there is a gray area in Minnesota’s constitution. Last week’s election results point to a likely recount to see if Republican Tom Emmer can make up an 8,755-vote deficit.

Many, including Pawlenty, read the constitution to mean he could see his term extended past Jan. 3. The constitution says a governor’s term runs four years but remains in office “until a successor is chosen and qualified.”

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Nauen says Dayton appears to have been “chosen” by voters and is “qualified” to serve. A court challenge that might follow a recount could delay the issuance of an election certificate to Dayton.