DELANO, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Standing in the bitter cold, outside his home, Republican candidate Tom Emmer conceded the race to be the next governor of Minnesota, making the way for Democrat Mark Dayton to take the state’s top spot.
“I do not believe the delay in seating the next governor will unite us or move us forward,” Emmer said. “Mark Dayton needs to get started on the business of governing this state.”
Raw Audio From Tom Emmer News Conference
A statewide recount made little difference in the Democrat’s election night lead of nearly 9,000 votes.
Emmer’s concession vaults Dayton back into power just four years after he quit the U.S. Senate after a single term. It also gives Democrats the governor’s office, a prize they haven’t won in 20 years.
Dayton has to move ahead quickly with his transition. He’s due to take office Jan. 3 and the state has a budget deficit of more than $6 billion.
Some Democrats had feared Emmer would pursue a lawsuit simply to keep Dayton out of office for weeks or months. That would have put GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s tenure into overtime just as GOP majorities are taking over at the Capitol.
But even some Republicans said they hadn’t seen anything that would have supported a successful legal challenge by Emmer.
Emmer said he did not believe that kind of lawsuit would be in the best interest for the people of Minnesota.
“I do not believe a delay in seating the next governor will unite us or move our state forward,” he said.
Emmer, 49, is a three-term state legislator whose reputation as a Capitol firebrand made it a surprise for some when he beat out a more experienced lawmaker to become the GOP nominee in the spring.
During his press conference Wednesday, Emmer referred repeatedly to his pride in his campaign.
“We came within 8,700 votes of accomplishing something that not a lot of people thought we could do and we did it the right way,” he said.
As for what he will do in the future, Emmer joked that he might sign on with a left-leaning news site.
“I hear the UpTake might have an opening,” he said, with a deep laugh.
Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Tony Sutton and Deputy Chairman Michael Brodkorb issued the below statement about Emmer’s concession:
“Tom Emmer and Annette Meeks have served Minnesotans with great distinction for many years. As conservative champions of lower taxes, reform, and smaller, sensible government, Tom and Annette waged a principled and optimistic campaign that Minnesotans can be proud of. While Tom may be conceding the governor’s race, his ideas that government must live within its means won the day as he led the ticket that took control of the state house and the state senate for the Republican Party. His message of smaller, sensible government will be what guides the legislature and is the political reality that the incoming governor will have to recognize. On behalf of the Republican Party of Minnesota, we wish Tom, Annette and their wonderful families all the best in their future endeavors.”
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WCCO-TV’s Esme Murphy Reports