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Dayton Gives Himself ‘A’ In First Year As Governor

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — One year after winning a bruising election recount, and 11 months into his first term, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said Friday he is running for re-election.

“I am going to run for re-election,” said Dayton. “The good Lord willing, for one more term.”

Dayton’s unexpected comments come one year, almost to the day, after he won the governor’s race over Republican Tom Emmer on Dec. 8, 2010.

“You know, it seems like an eternity ago,” said Dayton, who took the official oath of office 28 days later on Jan. 3.

Dayton acknowledged his freshman year was a ‘mixed bag’ of results, including a $5 billion budget shortfall on his first day in office.

There was also a budget stalemate with the newly-elected Republican Majority in the state legislature. Let’s not forget the state government shutdown that lasted a record 21 days.

This week, a judge quashed Dayton’s attempt to force a child care union election.

After all those events in his first eventful year, the governor gives himself an “A.”

“Personally, I feel this has been a very good year in terms of my own performance and effort, and everything else,” Dayton offered. “I give myself an A for effort, and doing my very best.”

And the legislature?

He paused, then said it “needs improvement.”

As the first Democratic governor in a generation, Dayton didn’t hesitate to take political shots at the new Republican majority. It’s a style that’s not always productive.

“Effort is one thing,” said Senator Dave Thompson, (R) Lakeville.  “Results are another.”

Thompson, who is assistant majority leader, said Republicans succeeded in “bending the curve” of state spending downward in spite of Dayton, not because of him.

“We held the line on spending. The governor said if we didn’t raise taxes we’d throw the budget out of whack with continued deficits. Here we are looking at a surplus. And so from a results perspective I think the way that we did things made some sense,” said Thompson.

Though he’s already decided to run for a second term, Gov. Dayton said his focus remains on the next year, not the next election.

“We’ve still got three years to go,” said Dayton. And there’s a lot more I’d like to accomplish before that time comes.”

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