Gov. Dayton Settling In After Eventful 1st Week

By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Minnesota’s new governor Mark Dayton hasn’t yet completely moved into his new office, or the official governor’s residence. But he says he’s ready to go.

From the moment Dayton was sworn in on Monday, he was plunged into protest and controversy.

His first official press conference was crashed by demonstrators protesting the federal health care bill. He re-affirmed to anti-tax hike business leaders his plans to raise income taxes on Minnesota’s wealthiest citizens. And his dog died.

In his first one-on-one television interviews since taking office, Dayton said he allowed raucous protesters to speak at his press conference “because of the First Amendment,” recalling his own protest days as a young man.

“I remember going down to protest the Vietnam War in Washington, and I remember being tear-gassed,” said the former U.S. Senator. “I thought then, ‘that’s not supposed to happen in a democracy.'”

Dayton is adamant about raising taxes on Minnesota’s highest income earners to ease a massive budget deficit. He scoffs at Republicans who say it’s easy to cut without severe damage to schools, hospitals, public safety and the poor.

“If they, and we, can collectively find $6.2 billion of spending cuts — hey! I’ll buy the champagne,” said Dayton, a recovering alcoholic. “I won’t drink any, but I’ll let everybody rejoice and we’ll all go home happy. I have no desire to raise taxes on anybody. ”

For all the controversy about raising taxes on the wealthy, Dayton says his famous Dayton Department Store family agrees with him. Including his 92-year old father Bruce Dayton, who watched his son sworn in as governor from the front row of the Landmark Center ceremony.

For the first time, Dayton spoke publicly about the death Wednesday of his beloved German Shepherd Dakota.
He expressed gratitude for what he said was an outpouring of support and sympathy and said he’s planning for a puppy to accompany his other dog, Mesabi.

“Sometime this spring, or summer, when things settle down a bit, and a chance to survey the backyard of the governor’s residence, I am going to get another German Shepherd puppy,” he said. “A female. We’re gonna name her Wanamingo and call her Mingo.”

Dayton appeared at ease, comfortable in his new role, and he acknowledges the hard part is only beginning.

WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler Reports

More from Pat Kessler
  • Dave

    So what does he do with himself at night, alone in the mansion?

    • Joe Hanson

      I’m thinking hot bath, scented candles and Barry White playing on the stereo…

  • Steve

    Congratulation Governor Dayton. I am a Conservative Independent Voter. I wish you well in the Office. Just be square with the people of Minnesota. And if you raise taxes, call it a tax increase. Not a double talking fee like the lying ex-governor.

  • Kevin

    Yes, Congrats Governor Dayton!

    I was a skeptical Dayton supporter before the election, but the the alternative of an Emmer/Meeks team in office was to unthinkable to even consider. MN did not deserve to be thrown back into the Dark Ages with their bigoted, conservative agenda of hate and lies.

    If you Mr. Dayton can continue to show us a portion of what we’ve seen in your first week in office, we just might have a chance. You did well – very well. Thank you.

  • Joe Hanson

    Oh yes, congratulations. Committing Minnesota to spending another four hundred million dollars by executive order when we don’t have revenue to spare now – how irresponsible.

    From which state program are you going to steal that money, Governor skid-Mark?

  • Dave Seavy

    I invite anybody who can get the state out of its current financial situation without raising taxes to step forward. And health care can’t be ignored. I’m starting to have a lot of faith in Mark Dayton for being straight-forward and not being afraid to openly talk with his critics. I have a feeling there’s a big change in store for how Minnesota politics are dealt with. I guarantee he’ll publicly call out the bad apples and raise holy hell if the legislators start their game-playing.

    • Joe Hanson

      During the campaign, candidate Mark Dayton put forth two different budget plans to “get the state out of its current financial situation” and both times came up way short of a solution. February 15th should be an interesting day in Minnesota…

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