GOP Chair Sutton calls DFLer Dayton's alcoholism "not relevant"

Low down in the Star Tribune's Sunday story about former Sen. Mark Dayton's struggle with alcohol and depression was a quote from Minnesota Republican Party chairman Tony Sutton suggesting that, at least for now, the DFL gubernatorial candidate's disclosures were not fodder for political attacks.

He'd heard talk about Dayton's mental health issues as far back as 2000, but, "it's not relevant," Sutton told the Strib. "I am more troubled with what he wants to do to businesses in this state than I am about his private mental health issues or his struggles with drinking."

Dayton defeated GOP incumbent U.S. Sen. Rod Grams in 2000, helped out by $12 million of his own money during the campaign. He served in the U.S. Senate for one tumultuous term, 2001-2007, that included voting against the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and didn't seek re-election. He told the Strib he had a relapse with alcohol during his Senate tenure.

In 2003, Dayton's personal issues (to say nothing of his liberal record) were clearly deemed fair game by the rightie Power Line blog:

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has already started the public relations machinery running for Dayton, who is an otherwise colorless, inept, demagogic artifact of alcoholic if not psychiatric rehabilitation. (I used to be on his Christmas card mailing list; he freely shared his life experiences with near-strangers like me on an annual basis.)

No word yet from on this latest turn of events from Power Line. But in the meantime, there was a note of sympathy from the usually caustic Minnesota Democrats Exposed blog:

Today, Senator Dayton revealed that he has been battling depression since 1993, and had a short relapse of alcoholism in his last days as an United States Senator. All politics aside speaking from personal experience (I have close family members that have battled alcoholism) this was a very brave and courageous act by Sen. Dayton.

Dayton is one of 11 Democrats seeking the governorship. We'll see how this plays out.

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