ST. PAUL (WCCO/AP) – Five weeks after voters headed to the polls, Minnesota finally has a new governor.
Democrat Mark Dayton accepted Republican Tom Emmer’s concession on Wednesday, after a recount of 8,700 votes that separated the two.
Emmer called Dayton around 10 a.m. Wednesday to concede the race and held a news conference outside his home in Delano, Minn. a short time later.
“Minnesotans made their choice, by however thin a margin, and we respect that choice,” Emmer said.
Emmer’s concession will give Dayton access to a $162,000 transition budget.
Dayton said, as governor, his focus will be jobs and the economy. Plus, as the first democratic governor in 20 years, he pledged to push cooperation with the new republican majority in the House and Senate.
Minnesota’s new governor said he was awake most of the night after learning he’d won.
He compared the election and subsequent recount to a marathon, but said he’s ready to get to work.
“To my fellow citizens who voted for other worthy candidates, I will work equally hard for you. I was elected to serve all of Minnesota to the very best of my ability, and I promise that I will do so,” Dayton said.
The former U.S. senator said he’ll prepare his governor’s staff and cabinet within the next few weeks.
Channeling the last DFL Gov. Rudy Perpich, he said his administration will have only one focus — jobs, jobs, jobs.
Dayton also reached out to republicans who will control both the House and the Senate, promising difficult and unpopular decisions, but also collaboration. Though republicans have said they won’t accept Dayton’s plan to “tax the rich,” the new governor reaffirmed his intentions on Wednesday to move forward with that plan.
However, Dayton also said problems facing the government are so urgent, everyone will be thrown out of office in two years if they don’t do something.
“I want you to know I will always do my very best to make the best possible decisions that I truly believe will create a better future for you, your children and your grandchildren,” Dayton said.
Dayton will be officially sworn into office Jan. 3 and the new republican House and Senate will meet the next day, on Jan. 4.
Dayton, 63, served a single term in the U.S. Senate from 2000-2006 before deciding not to run for a second. He worked briefly as a schoolteacher before turning to politics and public service, serving as state auditor in the 1990s and holding cabinet-level positions in two different administrations in the 1970s and ’80s.
NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Adam Thomas Reports
WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler Reports
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