OAKDALE, Minn. (AP) — The leading candidates for Minnesota’s top offices hustled around the state Saturday, giving pep talks to the party faithful who went off to knock on doors and call voters in the campaign’s closing weekend.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken told canvassers in a St. Paul suburb that races are “won at the door” and reminded them his 312-vote win in 2008 proves nothing can be taken for granted. Franken put millions of dollars into his ground effort, which often gets overshadowed by television commercials.
“I’m not taking my foot off the gas,” the first-term senator said as he headed off to a pair of events in Minneapolis.
At a lakeside rally in Buffalo, Senate challenger Mike McFadden told GOP backers “don’t stop praying because we can feel it.” He campaigned with former state Rep. Tom Emmer, who is vying for an open 6th Congressional District seat. The district is heavily Republican, so the GOP is banking on an Emmer victory of 25 percentage points or more to ripple through the ticket.
Though the Senate race was largely overlooked nationally and polls showed the incumbent comfortably ahead, McFadden said victory was still within reach.
“America might be shocked but Minnesota is not going to be shocked because we know what’s going on,” he said to a crowd bundled up to guard against a chilly lake breeze.
In the governor’s race, Democratic incumbent Mark Dayton appeared at some northern Minnesota rallies as a party caravan moved into the typical stronghold. The area is home to a U.S. House race featuring Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican rival Stewart Mills that’s been among the nation’s most competitive and expensive.
“Turn those votes out,” Dayton, dressed in a hockey jersey, urged in Grand Rapids as he plugged the “DFL team” he credited with helping pass his legislative agenda.
Meanwhile, Republican gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson moved from events in southern Minnesota toward an evening rally in Minneapolis. In Winona, he showed up at a grocery store to mingle with people grabbing breakfast.
“I think he cares about me and my money,” Liz Wirt, a dairy farmer, told the Winona Daily News. “I want somebody in office who thinks about that.”
Johnson said he’s confident he will close a polling gap against Dayton now that people are fully engaged.
“I think the energy is on our side right now,” he told the newspaper. “I feel really good about where we’re at in this race.”
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