Does Mark Dayton deserve another term?


Sen. Mark Dayton once gave himself a failing grade for his time in Washington. He’d spent millions of his own fortune to get elected but left after one term, frustrated by his inability to get things done, writes MPR News reporter Mark Zdechlik.

It’s an altogether different story for Gov. Mark Dayton. He’s found the job he wants.

He’s already made big changes as governor, most notably turning his predecessor’s staunch opposition to tax increases on end. He intends to seek a second term next year and some analysts say the battles he’s fought and won in his first three years have him well-positioned to win in 2014.

Health problems — he had back surgery last year and tore a hip muscle in the summer — have slowed him a bit, leading some observers to suggest his health may still lead him against running again. But in an extended interview with MPR News, Dayton insisted he is seeking re-election.

And though he’s proud of his efforts to raise taxes to pay for state programs, he suggested he’s open to cutting income taxes across the board if Minnesota’s finances continue to improve.

“I am who I am. I am 66 years old,” he said. “But I think with age comes a lot of experience and wisdom that I hope people will decide has held the state in good stead.”

Elected by a slim margin in 2010, Dayton got off to a rough start. Halfway into his first year, a showdown with the Republican-controlled Legislature led to a government shutdown. On the eve of the shutdown, Dayton accused Republicans of protecting the wealthy.

“Instead of taxing their friends, they would prefer very damaging cuts to health care, K-12 and higher education, state and local public safety, mass transit and other essential services to the people of Minnesota,” he told reporters. [Full story]

Today’s Question: Does Mark Dayton deserve another term?

  • reggie

    Absolutely! He is not the most dynamic speaker, but he’s demonstrated that a pragmatic, competent, patient person can prod things along when they need prodding, and can stay out of the way when things are moving along on their own. He is the very definition of middle-of-the-road, in the best tradition of, say, Arne Carlson, and that kind of governor gets more accomplished than any ten ideologues.

  • AndyBriebart

    I think it really depends on whether Alita Messinger wants to spend the money.

    If he does run, do you think the media, especially MPR/TPT will ask him any tough questions. He doesn’t like answering tough questions.

    • JQP

      I don’t believe there is a single politician out there that actually answers tough questions … with the tough answers….. but a lot of them sure “respond”

      • Ralphy

        Answering a tough question witha tough answer – politicians all learned from Walter Mondale’s experience. Most voters cann’t handle the hard truth.

        • W


  • Sue de Nim

    Strictly speaking, no one deserves to hold any elective office; it’s a privilege granted by the voters. That said, Dayton’s been a pretty good governor (apart from pushing through that abominable stadium deal). His preference for evidence-based public policy is a refreshing change from his predecessor’s ideological purism. That, and the fact that there’s little danger he’ll be posturing for a run at higher office, is enough reason for me to vote for him again.

    • Yanotha Twangai

      Pawlenty was no ideological purist. He was just pandering to his base, adjusting his stance to fit what he thought was more likely to attract support from hard liners. At least ideologues have integrity; panderers don’t.

    • reggie

      You’re right about the stadium deal. We, the people of MN, got bamboozled by the east coast sharks, and Gov. Dayton was complicit. I’d call it a smudge, but not really a black mark on his record…

    • just say’n

      Glad you commented on “deserves”. It’s not just a technicality but a sense of entitlement. The last time this rubbed me so wrong was when NY was considering whom to put up for Hillary’s Senate seat, and feminists brought out the concept of “deserves” front and center to clobber Caroline Kennedy, as if it were some sort of academic race for the deepest transcript.

      If Dayton is the best at the time I’ll vote for him. The stadium deal was bad, but if the economy picks up it will wash out and be forgotten by most. Let’s hope. It’s difficult to evaluate a politician put into such a difficult position with the Tea Party – could have been better, could have been worse. If he’s enjoying his work that’s a very good sign. Wish him best for his back pain and all.

  • JQP


    • Yanotha Twangai


      • Uncle Geo

        Why not?

  • Gary F

    I say let him run! Governor Goofy II will be an easy target. Even with the Alinksy attack dog know as Alliance for a Better Minnesota. If he runs, Carrie Lucking and crew will pull out all the stops with a character assignation strategy like we have never seen before.

    • “character assignation”

      What sort of character do you think they will assign him?

      “Governor Goofy II”?? – How precious.

      • Gary F

        Whoever the Republican who runs against him will get so much mud thrown at him by Carrie Lucking and company it wont be funny.

        And, unfortunately, the election won’t be focused on the issues facing our state.

        • I certainly hope the election will be issue focused, but the GOP candidate will be crushed either way.

    • Uncle Geo

      Wonderful thing then that you are pure enough not to attack anyone’s character.

  • Jim G

    Yes. He’s finally found the right fit for public service. I hope he runs again, again, and again.

  • PaulJ

    He seems to have been a sincere manager. But, a written debate among the contenders would clarify who deserves what.

  • Rich in Duluth


    I didn’t agree with his support for the new stadium and I wanted the tax increase on the wealthy to cover more than the top 2%. Otherwise, I approve of his support for MNsure, and more spending on education. He’s a middle of the road Democrat and that’s the philosophy I lean toward, so I’ll vote for him.

    …and I like his “erratic”, quirky style.

  • Cold enough for ya

    You betcha. Given the chance I’ll vote for pragmatic do what needs to get done candidate over policy purist every chance I get.

  • Curmudge

    Of course. Dayton is our best governor since Wendall Anderson. He will win easily.

  • wbgleason

    The governor has done a great job under difficult circumstances. The state is in much better shape since he took over.
    And of course the obvious question is: Do the Republicans have a candidate who is capable of doing a better job?
    And if he isn’t the most articulate orator on the planet, he is a heckuva good politician. Look at that picture of him in his office. The Republicans who have mocked him for his office/closet just don’t get it.

  • mason

    No. He’s corporatist who prioritized handing the NFL hundreds of millions of state dollars over catching up on delayed payments to our underfunded schools.

    • jeffk

      If a bunch of well-intentioned, anti-corporate progressives oppose him because of the stadium, all we’re going to get for our efforts is a Republican elected.

    • I think the stadium was a good business decision for Minnesota–and we accomplished the school fund repayment, too.

  • Noah from Duluth

    He has certainly won my vote; he has accomplished a lot and has put Minnesota in a good place with MNCare expansion and MNSure. He has paid back the schools and turned the economic outlook around in four years. We still have a lot of work to do to recover from the lack of investment in our state from the previous administration. Once Governor Dayton has the ability to move forward after fixing that who knows what Minnesota will have?

    • Yes, he has my vote, too; although I wouldn’t go so far as crediting any one person or administration for “turning the economic outlook around,” he’s got a good business head on his shoulders, and he’s a good leader.

  • Jeremy Powers

    Absolutely. He was handed a pile of dung and in three years has put this state right. Well done!

  • Bill

    No, the stadium deal was a sham is will be shown to be just that in February if the NJ court gets its way and Ziggy has to show his net worth. We the people will have to foot the whole bill, wait and see. Why did the governor not find out the Wilf’s net worth of this scam artist before letting it go through. What a joke.

  • gigimn

    Best Governor in the country, he cares about Minnesota and its people. I will vote for him, and so will most of my friends and relatives..

    • Ed Corey

      he dont care bout our vote

  • tom E

    Anybody who can get us funding for education, supports marriage equality, gets our economy going, increases state revenue, supports healthcare for ALL, cares about ALL Minnesotans, cuts the deficit that the Republicans wouldn’t, wants all Minnesotans to vote and does not support ridiculous amendments to our constitution and whose interest is for a better Minnesota, gets my vote and that is Mark Dayton.

  • invenium viam

    Balanced the budget, paid back the school districts, reduced property taxes, enacted all day kindergarten, provided day care subsidies for low-income families, enacted MNSure with health insurance rates now the lowest in the country and health care quality an example to the nation. Unemployment now at 5.8% (pre-2009 Crash levels). College tuition frozen. Violent crime down. Local economy growing. Job market growing. Roads, bridges and infrastructure improving. Marriage equality enacted. Education spending increased. Real progress on transitioning to a green energy economy. Now an expected 2014 budget surplus and a stand for a middle-class tax break. Not to mention that, in my view, our collective mood is the brightest it’s been and our demeanor the lightest it’s been since the crash. What’s not to like? This has been the most progressive, most effective state legislature in 20 years. In my grade book, this governor gets a A+++ with earned extra credit. A couple of hiccups and some deal-making along the way? — sure, to be expected. Running a state isn’t a garden party and deal-making is part of the way things get done. He should get an honorary PhD in Public Service with an embossed gold emblem that reads “Champion of the People.”

    • Yanotha Twangai

      Were you paid to write that puff piece?

      • reggie

        What’s “puff” about a simple list of factual accomplishments? Dayton has a strong track record of nuts-and-bolts successes. There’s still plenty to do, and if he earns a second term, there’s every reason to believe he will help lead the state even further down a productive path. Look back at the Larry Jacobson piece in the 11/23/13 NY Times comparing MN under Dayton and WI under Walker. It’s no contest: Dayton and MN are the clear winners.

        • Yanotha Twangai

          What’s puffery is assigning any politician a grade like “A+++”. I like Dayton, but no one is that good. Such puffery comes across as insincere, which is why I wondered what I wondered.

          • tom

            Yanotha, said like a true living cream puff

          • Uncle Geo

            Yanotha, so apparently you don’t disagree with the facts. You must not be a right winger.

      • invenium viam

        No, I don’t get paid. My opinions are offered entirely free of charge and others are free to agree or disagree as they please. That said, the A+++ is MY grade book. My praise is entirely sincere and measured by what I think makes Minnesota great: a great place to live, work and raise a family. A cultural gem of the upper Midwest. A hub of quality medicine, quality industry and quality education. A vigorous arts community. I think about where we currently are positioned vs. where we ought to be and who is doing the most to move the state forward by the quickest, most direct, most efficient route. That’s leadership. If you look at all the Governor has accomplished in the short time he’s had an amenable legislature to work with, he well deserves the praise. Full credit given where credit is fully due …

  • Spunkyhot1

    Though I don’t necessarily agree with Governor Dayton on the stadium issue, he does have my support for re-election over any Republican. I am only for 100 percent public financing of state-supported college and municipal stadiums. As for stadiums used for professional teams of the major sports should be financed by private ownership and we should never give in to threats by owners to move their team to another state astt a bargaining chip! Minnesota would still thrive economically without them. If the new stadium that the Twins have and the Vikings will have a few years from now are not good enough 30 years from now, let them move elsewhere.

  • Arielle

    Definitely! He has done well by the people of Minnesota and taken action on issues that impact our lives for the positive. Hands down, I would vote for him again!

  • W


  • Owen

    Interesting to see so much support for Dayton from MPR listeners and web site visitors. Sort of makes one question the frequent protestations when people accuse MPR of leaning to the left. Also see Kathy Wurzer’si fawning interview this morning with Mark Andrew about his being accosted at the Mall of America. What’s he campaigning for now?

    • AndyBriebart

      I don’t go to the Mall of America very often. Gun free zones like that are full of thugs.

      • kevins

        Likely, you don’t live anywhere near the MOA so it is no loss either for you or it. Guns are a different issue and have nothing to do with this or that.

    • “Sort of makes one question the frequent protestations when people accuse MPR of leaning to the left.”

      Reality has a well known liberal bias.

  • winnie

    yes. except for the new stadium, he’s done a great job

  • kevins

    I voted for him before and would do so apt ambassador for we Minnesotans with none of the annoying petulance of the previous administration.

  • TheEvilBlight

    Compare with Wisconsin.

    The stadium deal was still a bad one. It’s many hundreds of millions we don’t have, and there’s a good chance much of the tax increase is going to go to that monstrosity when all is said and done.

    Dayton, as a businessperson (or a scion of the wealthy family that brought us Target) probably appreciates the wealth a business can generate for a state. He might need to bring more pressure onto the University of Minnesota to cut costs (starting with reducing building expenditure and loosening the stranglehold of indirect costs attached to research grants); and follow up with conversations with industry to matchmake jobs for MNSCU, community colleges and U of M to the needs of industry. And if necessary, adjust the curriculum to match what the job market is looking for, so that the state can realize better ROI for its subsidy (and students can get ROI from their education in this state).

  • Mark

    No. Like R.T. Rybak, the stadium deal was a betrayal of public trust, to benefit only an extremely wealthy few. The Twins Stadium made an already obscenely wealthy Carl Pohlad family even more rich, and yet they have not given back to the community in kind. There is no reason to believe that Ziggy Wilf will give back to the state, culturally or otherwise, anything that would match what the city & state have bequeathed upon him.

  • Vicki Marlowe

    I think he’s done a better job than any of his opponents would have done. He’s fair and seems to really care about people.

  • Uncle Geo

    Well of course he does. I can only imagine the hell we’d be living in if Emmer had been elected. The schools would still be waiting for the money Pawlenty took from them to “balance” his budget -the stinker. Yeah the stadium is a problem but it always has been with just about every politician -and if you vote based on a single issue you are not doing your job as a citizen.

    • gigimn

      A voice of wisdom from Uncle George..;)

  • Kristin Larsen

    Yes. Governor Dayton has been fair and honest in his dealings with Minnesotans, he’s holding off judgement and waiting for solid science and public feedback before deciding whether to support mining in the Duluth Complex and his policies have been successful. I hope that his health improves, no one should have to live with chronic pain.

  • R M

    No way will I or anyone I know who voted for him do so again. I’m not much for politics or getting remotely involved but when his reelection comes I will hand out as many fliers and knock on as many doors and post as many signs that I am able to see that he never serves another term in my state!!! Reason #1 we the people of Minnesota voted against Gay marriage. What did he do, he went over our majority voters heads and passed it, do you think you did right in the eyes of God. I think not. #2 people have voted to pass Medical Marijuana in this state and it gets turned down and now he says its up to law enforcement. What the heck are you doing in that Job. What is Minnesota gonna be the last state to finally approve it ? Well no worries because if he doesn’t our new Governor will next year. I am so disappointed in the decisions you have made on behalf of Minnesotans especially since you don’t care what we vote. So why don’t you listen to the people that matter and not just the select few you want to hear from. Enjoy your last year in that office.

    • gigimn

      Your opinion on Gay marriage tells me you never voted for him in the first place.his views on that, were front and forward during his campaign .If your “new” governor is any of the Republicans running..forget about medical Marijuana, they have all said they don’t support it..if you think an Independent candidate can win..dream on..

  • Jason

    No, he is in the pocket of law enforcement, even when it is against what the people of MN say. We need someone that will listen to the people.

  • Joe

    No, he certainly doesn’t “deserve” it. I’d love to see if any Republicans have an Idea or two about how he DOESN’T deserve it, but all signs for November they are still six years deep into their existential crisis. Hopefully the party line for the GOP by the time the election rolls around is a little more lucid than anarchy, but there aren’t any signals of that happening.
    I hope the Republicans hammer him over his statements about cannabis regulation and how mothers should seek medication for their ailing children from shady cannabis dealers who might have a contaminated product.

    • gigimn

      That comment was twisted..if people are going to judge him on one issue they will never be happy with anyone..Remember It passed under Pawlenty and he vetoed it..where were the outcries then.

  • skizziks

    Didn’t vote for this ass clown the first time around, and won’t be doing it the second time around either. This pompous ass is actually proud about this disgrace of a bill allowing CBD only marijuana. Come on Dayton, stop doing the will of law enforcement, and do the will of the people that elected you. And that’s besides the point. This man’s own father would not let him into the family business because he said he had no “business sense”. Why the hell is he governor if he can’t even run a company in the private sector? Minnesotans don’t need higher taxes, he is an establishment tool that needs to go.

  • No, because he opposes marijuana legalization. We need a governor who will help our state heal from the ravages of Prohibtion.

  • Democrats are using the IRS as a tool to persecute people and Senator Dayton could care less. It is time for Dayton to go as he allows felons to rule.