by T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol reporter — The two leading gubernatorial candidates spent the last Saturday (Oct. 30) of the campaign season differently. SEE PHOTO GALLERY
Whereas Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Tom Emmer was the centerpiece of an enthusiastic rally at the Anoka County/Blaine Airport featuring visiting Republican governors and a guest appearance by actor Jon Voight of “Deliverance” and “Midnight Cowboy” fame, Democrat Mark Dayton made a series of low-key get-out-the-vote rallies in St. Paul and Minneapolis.
“This is where it happens the last weekend,” said Dayton, speaking to reporters in the kitchen of Democrat Rep. Alice Hausman’s home in St. Paul. “It all comes down to who shows up on Tuesday,” said Dayton to a group of supporters filling the downstairs of the home.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton, Sen Ellen Anderson of St. Paul listening in, takes one last question before leaving for another campaign stop today (Oct. 30). (Photo by T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol Reporter)
Clear contrast between candidates
Democrats Saturday morning spoke in the same tones Republicans used later in the airport hanger — that the contrast between Dayton and Emmer could not be clearer.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman spoke in that vein.
“What I do know there’s never been an election where there’s been a bigger contrast between what happens if Mark Dayton wins or (Republican) Tom Emmer,” said Coleman.
In what Dayton considered a sign of party unity, Hausman spoke of her conversion to the Dayton campaign.
“I am a true believer of Mark Dayton as our governor,” said Hausman, saying she did not originally know Dayton well.
But Dayton is respectful, has a self-depreciating sense of humor, and is the father to two wonderful sons, she explained.
“On that very first day I was devoted to the campaign,” Hausman said of attending a party unity rally.
Hausman styled Dayton speaking from a “voice always from the heart.”
Missing partner in Governor’s Office
Fourth Congressional District Democratic Congresswoman Betty McCollum said elected leaders have been missing a partner in the Minnesota Governor’s Office. “We are excited about Mark Dayton as our next governor,” she said.
Dayton in the kitchen said he did not believe a recent poll that showed him with a double-digit lead and could not reconcile the wide variations surfacing in the polling.
The only poll that really matters will be on Election Day, he explained.
Things were much louder and boisterous in Blaine — Republican Sixth Congressional District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann danced behind the podium and threw strings of beads into the crowd of supporters.
“We’re right on the bubble right now,” said Bachmann of Republicans sweeping into power.
“Call, call, call, call,” she urged Republicans in get-out-the-vote efforts.
Bachmann pointed to the Eighth Congressional District, where Republican Chip Cravaack of Lindstrom is believed in a close race with Democratic Congressman Jim Oberstar of Chisholm, as another example of a possible Republican win.
“All Chip needs is us,” she said.
Pawlenty pooh-poohs recent polls
Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, whose making campaign stops across the country, pooh-poohed recent polls showing Emmer trailing Dayton — these are kind of polls to be expected from the Star Tribune, the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute, he suggested.
Pawlenty compared Democratic control of government to an open bar at a wedding — of course people will line up, he explained.
“We are running against the open bar party,” he said.
Voight warned Republicans to be watchful for signs of voter fraud election night, attacked “Obamacare” and said it looked like the president was trying to destroy the country state by state.
He suggested, too, Democrats were focusing on defeating Bachmann. “But it ain’t going to happen,” he quipped.Bachmann hugged Voight after his speech.
Emmer spoke of job creation, and depicted the average Minnesota family as too busy to watch politics closely but assuming politicians couldn’t do much damage.
That’s wrong, explained Emmer.
“They’ve done a lot, folks,” he said.
High-profile governors travel to Minnesota
Two high-profile Republican governors traveled to Minnesota and appeared at the rally, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Pawlenty and Barbour are often mentioned as presidential hopefuls.
Other Republicans appearing at the rally included Second Congressional District Congressman John Kline, House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, Sen. Amy Koch of Buffalo, state auditor candidate Pat Anderson of Dellwood.
The three gubernatorial candidates — Dayton, Emmer, and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner — are expected to appear at the last gubernatorial forum of the campaign at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul Sunday afternoon.
Horner meet-and-greets in Eagan and Bloomington today with a noontime State Capitol rally.