MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the first time since the election, gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer sat down for a one-on-one interview. Emmer has kept a low public profile since Nov. 2.
Although he has held a news conference and his campaign has continued to issue statements to the news media, Emmer himself has not been available for interviews.
Right now, Emmer is 8,755 votes behind Democrat Mark Dayton to be the next governor of Minnesota. That difference is less than one-half of one percent, which triggered an automatic recount under state law.
Both Dayton and Emmer have assembled legal teams and other groups are stepping forward with plans to monitor the recount process in order to guarantee transparency in the process.
On Thursday, he was in studio with NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Michele Tafoya. (Note: Tafoya donated $120 to Emmer’s campaign last summer.)
Emmer said he would find it “entirely improper” to extend the post-election battle for the sake of delay if an upcoming recount doesn’t go his way.
“I wouldn’t be part of it,” Emmer told WCCO Radio’s Michelle Tafoya.
“The goal would be if we can finish the process and all irregularities have been fleshed out and people are satisfied with the outcome, the next governor should be sworn in on time,” Emmer said.
The new governor is supposed to take office Jan. 3. But GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty would stay in office if a winner isn’t certified by then, a tantalizing prospect for Republicans given their takeover of the Legislature.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Emmer described himself as “involved” in the recount effort but declined to characterize himself as “in charge.” The state Republican Party has hired attorneys and is coordinating recount strategy on Emmer’s behalf.
In Thursday’s interview, Emmer embraced a more authoritative role in the process and how long it goes on.
“I’m in charge,” Emmer said. “So ultimately it is my call.”
State law provides for an automatic recount when the margin between the top two candidates is less than a half percentage point. The present margin is .04 percent.
Dayton recount chief Ken Martin released a statement Thursday pointing out that Emmer could waive the new count if he chose. Martin said a potential lawsuit — known as an election contest — would do little, other than delaying an end to the election
“We agree with Mr. Emmer that we need to count every vote, and that whomever gets the most votes wins, and should be certified no later than December 14,” Dayton spokeswoman Denise Cardinal said after the interview aired.
Republicans have raised questions about malfunctioning voting equipment, rejected absentee ballots and the eligibility of some voters who signed up on Election Day. Dayton’s campaign argues that GOP allegations are either unsubstantiated or being blown out of proportion.
Meanwhile, three watchdog groups say they’ll deploy observers to recount sites later this month as Minnesota’s election for governor gets dissected.
The organizations won’t be there to challenge ballots or otherwise add up vote totals. But their leaders say they want to provide extra assurance that the process is conducted fairly and with transparency.
Citizens for Election Integrity, Common Cause Minnesota and the League of Women Voters Minnesota jointly outlined their role Thursday. The coalition hopes to have 150 observers show up at the various recount sites.
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