Margaret Anderson Kelliher: The fight for Minnesota governor

MAK faces her toughest test yet, but could make history

Kelliher is tired. After the session, she got only about three hours of sleep. The next day was her son's birthday, which didn't allow for much rest either.

Now that the session is over, campaigning is Kelliher's full-time job. Her two DFL opponents already have a head start—they haven't been cooped up in the Capitol for the past four months—so Kelliher has a lot of catching up to do.

Moving forward, Kelliher's campaign strategy will mirror the one that won her a spot in the House of Representatives 12 years ago: door-knocking across the state. She will bang the drum for a state commitment to funding public education, job creation, and a governing style that brings sanity to the budget process.

An early poll put Kelliher in second place to Dayton by 10 percent, but she downplays the significance. "It's so early. I really don't think that's a big margin at all for him. I mean, think about it: He's been in DFL politics for 30 years. His name's been out there for 100."

Money may prove to be Kelliher's biggest obstacle, says DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez. "When you're running against millionaires who are willing to spend their own money and you're limited to $2,000 per donation, that is not a level playing field."

No matter the odds, Kelliher isn't about to go quietly.

"I've always taken on tough fights," she says, "and I don't quit. I win."

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