SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota candidates for Governor are making last minute efforts to attract voters to the polls for the state's first-ever August Primary election. At stake are party nominations for the Republican, DFL and Independence Parties.
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The main event, for many observers, is the hotly contested DFL primary which is a "money versus machine" race. Millionaires Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza are pitted against the get-out-the-vote approach of DFL and Labor endorsed Margaret Anderson Kelliher.
Former Senator Dayton and former State Representative Entenza have each spent heavily on television advertising, while Minnesota House Speaker Kelliher has concentrated more on person-to-person contact in her campaign.
Democrats will be watching the results closely for Kelliher's strength or weakness as indicative of the value of carrying the endorsement of the party into the primary. "If Kelliher's endorsement from the convention means anything, it should mean that she should be able to deliver both on Primary day and further down the line," said Hamline University's David Schultz.
While the GOP's Emmer has faced broadcast attacks for his DUI arrests and attempt to lower DUI penalties in the state, he has tried to focus his campaign on tax and economic issues. In recent days, Emmer has begun an effort to reinvent himself, according to Schultz.
"The fact that he has changed his management team might suggest that that is what he is going to do now. That is: he is going to try to repackage himself and get ready for a general election strategy as opposed to what's really been, I think, a primary election or a convention delegate strategy so far," said Schultz.
As for the voter turnout, it is expected to be low. The summer timing is expected to cut into participation. "We will find out just how significant it is when we compare voter turnout in this primary to four years ago," said University of Minnesota Political Scientist Kathryn Pearson.
"People are more likely to be on vacation. People are not accustomed to voting in primaries in August in the middle of summer. People traditionally are not thinking about politics until after Labor Day," said Pearson.
Hamline's Schultz says the real battle will be outside of GOP or DFL faithful. "The battleground in Minnesota is not just mobilizing the Democratic base or the Republican base. It is winning over what seems to be approximately 30% of the population, which is 'swing' voter. That is really where the balance of power is," said Schultz.
The polls on Primary Day are open Tuesday from 7am to 8pm.
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