Ramsey County, the second most populous county in the state, has audited its Election Day ballots. As with Hennepin County last week, each candidate has picked up a thimble-full of support.
That means the overall results are the same. Dayton is ahead of Republican Tom Emmer by about 8,750 votes, and we're headed for a recount after the state canvassing board meets on Nov. 23.[jump]
It also means no brakes yet on the noise machine, with Republicans accusing Democrats of stealing the election, and Democrats saying that Republicans are thwarting the will of the people.
The Dayton team is now latching onto one particular quote in the Star Tribune to argue that Republicans want to use the recount as a back alley maneuver to push legislation they know Mark Dayton would try to stop if he were governor:
"I don't think there's any downside to keeping this recount going on as long as possible," said a high-level Republican operative who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "If we keep the process going, there are opportunities for us in the upcoming legislative session."
This line of thinking centers on the fact that Gov. Tim Pawlenty has stated that he will stay on the job until a new governor has been sworn in.
"If that is the Republicans' goal, it is a strategy designed to hijack the will of Minnesota voters," Dayton recount director Ken Martin said in response. "Such an outrageous power grab would be completely un-Minnesotan. We expect that it would blow up in the Republicans' faces. The people spoke on November 2, and we know what they said."
If it is the Republicans' goal, it also runs counter to what House Speaker-to-be Kurt Zellers has promised: the GOP-controled Legislature will wait for a new governor before trying to move its agenda.
Update 1: The UpTake has posted video contrasting the Team Emmer and Team Dayton spin on the recount numbers. Emmer said yesterday he's gained 1,000 votes since Election Day. David Lillehaug, representing Dayton, says that number is less than 200.
Update 2: GOP state chair Tony Sutton has now sent out a second fundraising letter to supporters, portraying the election results as suspect, and calling Emmer the winner (even though he's almost 9,000 votes behind). It reads in part:
By now you know the Governor's race is too close to call and there is a constitutionally mandated statewide recount. I'm not going to mince words here. We need your financial support to ensure that everyone's vote is counted (and only counted once!).
I'm sure you, just like me, are very concerned about the voting problems that occurred on Election Day. Severe voter count discrepancies and voting machine malfunctions, especially in Hennepin County have put the election of our next Governor, Tom Emmer in doubt. The Republican Party of Minnesota will not stop until every single vote is accounted for and that the true will of the people is met. Please join me in ensuring we finally have a fair and unbiased election result in Minnesota!
We have an experienced recount team lead by renowned Election Attorney Michael Toner. We are organized and 100% committed to ensuring ever single vote is counted properly. Show your commitment today by donating.