Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton began slurring his speech more than he normally does and then collapsed while giving his penultimate State of the State address to a joint session of the Minnesota legislature last night. The collapse was of course caught on camera. The 30-second video below was posted online by the Telegraph.
Dayton regained consciousness and was escorted out of the room. The Star Tribune story on Dayton’s speech by Ricardo Lopez initially reported on Dayton’s health status (“doing great”) via a tweet from Dayton’s son Eric. In an updated version of the story posted online this morning, Lopez adds that Dayton “quickly recovered, walked out of the Capitol, and returned home,” according to a statement posted on Dayton’s Twitter account (accessible here) by chief of staff Jaime Tincher.
The Pioneer Press reports on last night’s speech in a more observant story by David Montgomery and Rachel Stassen-Berger. They note: “There were some early signs that the governor was not doing well Monday night. He stumbled as he walked up to the dais in the House chamber but quickly recovered and joked: ‘I knew I should have shown up for the walk-through.’ During the speech, Dayton took several long pauses in his prepared remarks.”
So what happened? The tweet asserts that Governor Dayton fainted (as he has in the past). Why did he faint? I trust we will be told something beyond the current statement, but Governor Dayton has a health history including alcoholism and depression. It is a health history that has been acknowledged but otherwise poorly reported by the local media.
In a sidebar by Pat Pheifer, the Star Tribune nevertheless asserts: “The governor’s office has always been forthcoming about Dayton’s medical issues.” With reporters like the Star Tribune’s on the case, you can see why Dayton’s obvious health issues have been so poorly reported.
Given the visible drama, I should think the the local press will dig into the cause of what happened last night with or without the assistance of the governor’s office. In any event, we wish Governor Dayton a speedy recovery and pray that he will spare us the ascension of Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith, who helped catch him as he fell last night.