Friday, December 11, 2009


The second DFL candidate in this series, alphebetically speaking, is Mark Dayton.

Mark Dayton is a former United States Senator. He was born in Minneapolis and raised in Long Lake, Minnesota. He graduated from Blake High School in 1965 and from Yale University in 1969 (cum laude). He played hockey (goalie) in both high school and college. At Yale he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

Here's my take on the questions I posted in an earlier blog post:

1. How much experience working in government does the candidate have? Mark Dayton has more government experience than any other DFL candidate. He's been in government service for over 34 years. He was a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Walter Mondale. After that he was Commissioner of the Minnesota Departments of Economic Development and of Energy and Economic Development. Dayton was also Minnesota State Auditor (1991 - 1995) and United States Senator (2001 - 2007). On September 22, 2005, the forty-fourth anniversary of the day President John F. Kennedy signed the Peace Corps into law, Dayton became the first U.S. senator to introduce legislation creating a Department of Peace. He received a 90 percent progressive rating from a non-partisan group that provides a searchable database of Congressional voting records from a Progressive perspective.

2. Is the candidate electable? Does the candidate have state-wide name recognition? Dayton definitely has state-wide name recognition, probably more so than any other candidate. He is, of course, a member of the Dayton family that owned Dayton's Department Store, which later became the Dayton/Hudson Corporation. When voters hear the name Dayton, they immediately think of many fond memories of shopping at Daytons and Target. Mark Dayton was never involved in the family business by his own choice. He knew right out of college that he wanted to devote his life to public service. Nevertheless, almost every voter knows who he is. He also has a wide network of adamant and loyal supporters. Because of this, he has an excellent chance of winning the governorship.

3. Does the candidate have viable ideas about how to fix the crisis that Minnesota is in? Does the candidate have an actual plan for tackling most of the issues, or does he/she only talk about one or two issues? Does the candidate whine that the new governor can't do everything so has to concentrate on one or two things, or does he/she appear eager to get right to work on a plan to solve all the most pressing issues? I have never heard Mark Dayton whine about anything. He is good on most of the issues if not all. He has a plan for most of them. If he doesn't know the details of an issue, he makes sure that he finds out. For example, he wanted to know more details about the Minnesota Health Plan, so he requested information directly from people associated with MUHCC (Minnesota Univeral Health Care Coalition). Dayton has an excellent Policy Director (Brian Klaas) who was also on staff during the Senate years. Look at Dayton's campaign website to get more information about the issues.

4. Is the candidate popular with voters? Yes, definitely. There's no question about it. He's got a very large support network from past campaigns. (By the way, he's got a bigger Facebook friends list and Twitter followers than most of the other candidates.)

5. Is there anything in the candidate's past that the opposition can use to turn voters against him or her? The Republicans have things that they will try to use against Dayton, but no DFL voter will care about them. In talking with people in my own network, I have been told again and again that no one cares that he closed his Senate office because of a terroristic threat. The legislature was in recess and all the senators were gone. Why did any of them leave their staff behind? Dayton was the only one who cared enough about his staff to get them out of there. Also remember that he didn't close the office; he moved it back to Minnesota temporarily. The other item the Tony Sutton crowd (hereafter to be referred to as Lumpy's Crowd) seems to harp about is that Dayton gave himself an "F" for his effectiveness in the Senate. As usual, the media rags at the time did not tell the full story. They neglected to say that he gave all the senators an "F," not just himself. That makes a huge difference in how the story is perceived. Click here for more information. Other than those two incidents from his Senate years, there is nothing. Dayton is clean. Squeaky clean. Like Pat Boone. (Dean Martin once said, "I shook hands with Pat Boone and my whole left side sobered up.") All Dayton needs is the white buck shoes to complete the image. There's no dirt on him. I looked extensively and was glad to come up empty.

6. If the candidate has past legislative experience, what was his or her voting record like? Mark Dayton's Senate voting record is maintained by the Washington Post. Take a look and see for yourself how he voted on various bills.

7. Does the candidate have the type of personality that can get along with the legislators well enough to work with them and get things done? Does he or she have a history of getting along well with others? Dayton gets along well with others. He's got a great personality, a winning smile and a sense of humor. When he's governor, the people of Minnesota will come first with him, as they always have, so he won't stand for excuses from legislators or for any legislator or commissioner not doing his or her job. He'll make them accountable. Dayton will definitely get things done. He has already indicated that when he wins the election, there won't be any parties or pomp and circumstance because he's going to get right to work fixing Minnesota. That's the kind of governor we need. As far as being able to get along with others, I know that his staff adores him. That says a lot.

8. What is the public image of the candidate? How do others see him or her? Sometimes what you see is what you get; other times how you perceive a person is not at all how they really are. I'll just give the responses of what random people who were shopping at Rosedale said when I stopped and asked them what they thought of Mark Dayton.
"He's got a heart of gold." - Sue from Minneapolis
"He was a good Senator because he listened to people." - Jim from St. Paul
"He really cares about people." - Robert from White Bear Lake
"I would vote for him no matter what he was running for." - Bonnie from Woodbury
"He's goodhearted." - Jack from Mounds View
"I can't remember who he is." - Emma from St. Anthony (she was very young)
"He's not snobby like a lot of rich people are." -  Bryan from Shoreview
"He seems pretty real." - Amy from St. Paul
"He's done a lot of good." Karen from Roseville.

Almost everyone had good things to say about Mark Dayton and most remembered at least one or two things that they remembered him doing that stuck in their minds. Most remembered was the Braille laptop computer he bought for a blind woman who had hers stolen right out of her arms while riding the bus.

9. How much budgeting experience does the candidate have? Is it enough to combat the current budget crisis? Does the candidate thoroughly understand money? Mark Dayton was the President of Vermillion Investment Company. He was also the Minnesota State Auditor. He definitely has had a lot of practice handling money, as he is one of the heirs to the Dayton fortune. I can't think of anyone better qualified to handle Minnesota's budget. He's been around money his whole life and obviously feels comfortable with it (although perhaps a bit guilty that he has more than some do).

10. Does the candidate have a history of going out of his or her way to help others? Does the candidate truly care about the people of Minnesota, or is the candidate only out for himself or herself? Mark Dayton has a long history of going out of his way to help others. One example is the blind woman mentioned above who had her laptop stolen. Another was a woman who needed surgery but her insurance wouldn't pay for it. Dayton took it upon himself to make sure she got the surgery. He also donated his Senate salary to the Senior Federation. And don't forget how he paid for bus trips to Canada for seniors to go there to buy prescription drugs because they are cheaper in Canada.

11. What are the true inner motives as to why the candidate wants to be the next governor of Minnesota? For the answer to this question, watch this video:

12. Will the candidate be able to win a debate against the opposition? Mark Dayton has a lot of experience with candidate debates and forums. I've been present at several of them. He always holds his own. He does best when the subject is one that he feels deep passion about, such as equality and justice, and he feels that way about quite a few issues. He has the same passion for these things that Paul Wellstone did. My bet would be on Dayton to win a debate against most contenders. When he speaks, it becomes apparent that he has a wealth of experience to draw upon.

13. Does the candidate like children and animals? Mark Dayton loves children and animals. That becomes obvious when you see how many pictures there are of him interacting with kids and dogs. He had cats, too, but I can't find any pictures except for him with a young cougar. I also heard somewhere that he likes cows. Take a look at the following pictures and see for yourself how much he likes kids and pets.

14. Does the candidate often say what he or she thinks the audience wants to hear or does he/she tell the truth no matter how unpopular that truth might be? Is the candidate honest with the audience or are there half-truths and embellishments? Mark Dayton is known for his honesty and integrity. He always keeps his promises, too. He says what he means and he means what he says. (I first wrote that in a previous blog. I noticed it's been picked up on. Kind of like when Savion Glover knew when Gregory Hines was in the audience so he did one of Hines' steps just to acknowledge him. It's a great compliment.) Dayton is known for the way he stands up for issues that are often unpopular. For example, he voted against the Iraq War. He protested against the Viet Nam War. He stood up for gay rights in front of the entire Senate. It's on record that he never just says what he thinks people want to hear.  He's not wishy washy, either. He's got a conscience and he knows how to use it.

15. Does the candidate agree to be accountable to the people of Minnesota? Yes, definitely, as is evidenced in the above video near the end. He comes right out and says he will be accountable. He doesn't hide anything, either. He's very forthcoming about his life and what he believes in. It's plain that he's very sincere about caring for the people of Minnesota.

16. Does the candidate have a team of advisors and commissioners in mind yet? I know he has thought about what type of people he wants, but I have no idea if he has a list of names. He's most likely thinking of various people to serve as commissioners, aids, cabinet members, advisors, etc. He knows he has to win the election first. He will. Not to slight any of the other candidates, but it's inevitable.

17. In the final analysis, which candidate do you really connect with and why? Hmmmmm....gosh, that's a hard one.  Let me see.... Okay, I thought about it for a few seconds, and I guess I'd have to say Mark Dayton. Much of it is because of his personal qualities such as honesty and integrity, good character, sense of humor and decades of government experience. Sounds like some pretty darn good characteristics for someone who is running for governor. Another reason is that he's about my age and thus remembers all the same things that shaped me into who I am today. These would include the Viet Nam War, marching in anti-war protests, 60's music, the ridiculous presidency of Richard Nixon, the assassinations of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and even John Lennon. We remember Kent State, a Life magazine picture of a little girl running naked down the street with burning napalm on her, and journalistic pictures of the horrors that happened in Viet Nam. We know who Country Joe was and the song that became so famous back then. We also remember the 1950's: suicide doors, running boards and the Rat Pack. We remember the days when you knew who the heros were and who the bad guys were because the good guys always wore the white hats (except for Zorro).  Most of the other candidates are too young to remember these things (except Tom Rukavina). On the other hand, Mark Dayton is young at heart and so also relates well to kids, teenagers, young adults in their twenties, and those in their 30's and 40's. He's a candidate who reaches across all age groups and all cultural communites. One reason he's so well liked is because he really listens to others. And for those of you who are our age, you probably remember what we used to say back in the late Sixties and early Seventies..."he's got good vibes." And here's something else: some of our Revolutionary War ancestors lived in the same town. Here's another. We both had carpal tunnel surgery. Mine was done by Dr. Nipper. LOL. other thing...a small thing really...he kind of reminds me of the summer of 1968 when I had a perpetual ear to ear grin on my face all the time.  Ok, so I guess that answers that question.

18. And last but not least, what has the candidate done in his/her career to help various communities of people, such as Seniors, Veterans, Children, Disabled, GLBT, etc.? Mark Dayton's campaign website can answer this question quickly and effectively. Please click on the following links to find out what he has done for various groups of people.
Senior Citizens
In addition, here are some pictures to show how Mark Dayton is not afraid to get his hands dirty when supporting a cause.

Here's Mark working on a Habitat for Humanity house.

Here's Mark helping with sandbagging during the flooding of the Red River.

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