Recount signals a possible political shift in Minnesota

9:36 PM, Nov 4, 2010   |    comments
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Polls and pundits did not predict it.

But two days after election day, no governor has been elected.

"It shouldn't be a surprise that the race became as tight as it did," said Hamline University Professor David Schultz.

But maybe not this tight, so that two times in as many years Minnesota needs a recount. Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer each have 43 percent of the vote, almost the same split as the 2008 Senate race between Democrat Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman.

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"I thought that after Coleman Franken that was sort of a once in a lifetime or once in a century type of race being that close," Schultz said.

Neither campaign responded today to interview requests, both candidates silent. But on his Facebook page, Dayton did note his lead, writing he's confident his win will soon be official.

If and until that happens, Governor Pawlenty will remain in office, saying today he believes in the recount process, sure it will be done with integrity, and finished by the state deadline of January third.

"It's my belief and hope that can be done," Pawlenty said. "And I hope it will be done by then."

Experts agree, and don't expect a court battle like that of Coleman and Franken, first because the margin is several thousand votes, not several hundred. And also because of the the potential public backlash if the defeated candidate challenges the recount. After the eight month delay of 2008 race, Minnesotans may not again be so patient.

"I think the pressure will be absolutely enormous to say, 'Let's get this over, let's just move on and select a new governor,'" Schultz said.

And it's already underway. Officials from both parties will oversee the recount across the state, erasing any doubts of fairness or favoritism.

"The fact is that voter fraud is almost a nonexistent phenomenon," Schultz said. "A few occur here and there, but is there any evidence that this is a fraud in the system to overturn the result? No."

One reason experts like Schultz say our state elections are so close is that Minnesota is becoming a so-called purple state, shifting from its traditional Democratic roots to a more mixed population of both Democratic and Republican voters.

(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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