Dayton takes active role in campaign for Legislature

Published 5:30 pm Saturday, October 15, 2016

Gov. Mark Dayton has made it clear that he wants his fellow Democrats to be in the majority in the Minnesota House and Senate for the final two years of his administration. And he’s been campaigning hard this year to try to make it happen.

Dayton was in Edina this week to attend a campaign fundraiser for DFL state Senator Melisa Franzen, who is seeking re-election in the suburban swing district. Franzen is a self-described moderate, who has split with Dayton on some issues, including taxes. Still, she was pleased to have him at her event.



“Having his support means a lot,” Franzen said. “It means that we’re a team and we’re going to try to do what’s best for Minnesota despite the differences that we might have. We need to see more of that in politics in Minnesota.”

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In his remarks to the crowd, Dayton joked about his ability to help Democrats like Franzen.

“I say that I will do whatever helps a candidate the most,” he said. “I’ll campaign for them. I’ll campaign against them, whichever does them the most good.”


By the governor’s count, he’s been to 51 events for DFL candidates this year. He plans to squeeze in several more in the final weeks of the campaign.

“Why am I doing this? Because it just makes such an incredible difference for my last two years as governor, who controls the Minnesota Legislature,” Dayton said.

Dayton came into office with a Republican-controlled House and Senate. Two years later, it was Democrats in charge of both chambers. The past two years, it’s been a Republican House and a DFL Senate.

Dayton looks back fondly at the accomplishments made by that all-DFL Legislature, and he wants to see it again for his final two years.

DFL control would allow him to pursue additional money for universal preschool, water quality improvements and a robust package of public construction projects, Dayton said in an interview. He warned that Republican control would bring another round of “legislative paralysis.”

“We’ll probably have another deadlock over the state budget,” he said. “They’ll want to make drastic cuts there that don’t make any sense in terms of the services that we’re providing people. I mean they don’t want to make state government better. They just want to destroy it or defund it. That’s just a fundamental difference.”

Republicans contend that Minnesota voters rejected single-party control of state government in 2014 and are not interested in bringing it back.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, and other GOP candidates are stressing the need for political balance in St. Paul in order to hold Dayton’s agenda in check.

“I think the governor should really try to work with folks rather than to try to create folks to work with,” Daudt said. “I think Minnesotans sent us here for a reason. They appreciate having that balance and compromise, and I think they want the governor to work with us. So, I’d encourage him to do that.”

Republicans’ ongoing complaints about Democratic-backed health care polices, including the state insurance exchange known as MNsure, got an unexpected campaign-season boost from Dayton this week, when he declared that the federal Affordable Care Act “is no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people.” He also called on Congress to make improvements.

GOP leaders quickly characterized it as an admission of failure. Even Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tweeted about Dayton’s comment to bolster his anti-Obamacare stance.