Dayton’s millions: Just enough

Endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher jumped out to a lead in the Minnesota primary contest with Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza yesterday, but Dayton made up the ground and more as the returns came in from northern Minnesota. At midnight Dayton took a lead of about 450 votes. By the end of the night Dayton narrowly edged Kelliher 41 to 40 percent.
The closeness of the result calls to mind JFK’s account of his father’s telegram to him. “I have just received the following telegram from my generous father,” JFK joked. “Dear Jack: Don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary. I’ll help you win this election, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide!” Dayton didn’t pay for a landslide, at least not last night.
Dayton nevertheless invested millions in the result, and there is much more to come. The theme of Dayton’s advertising is that Minnesota has lived through a period of untoward austerity under Governor Pawlenty. That is surely false. Dayton means to open the spigots wider by making “the rich” pay their “fair share.” You’d never know that Minnesota’s tax climate is already one of the most onerous in the country.
Dayton’s television advertising has sought to convey a message of all the good things he will do as Minnesota’s chief executive. In the meantime, Dayton’s family and union friends have run a relentless barrage of attack ads regarding Republican nominee Tom Emmer. The attack ads feature Emmer’s ancient drunk driving convictions, among other things.
The attack on Emmer is made on behalf of a candidate who is not only an alcoholic with mental health problems, but who fell off the wagon as a United States Senator during his last year in office just a few years ago. Dayton disgraced himself in his single term as United States Senator. He has done nothing to prove himself fit to serve in an executive capacity, but his money has served him well so far.

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