It's over. Republican candidate for governor Tom Emmer will concede the race to Democrat Mark Dayton in an official announcement at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in his hometown of Delano.
Emmer decided to quit his recount battle against Dayton just hours after the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a written opinion that hammered the final nail in the coffin of his chances for a legal challenge.[jump]
The news leaked out during local 10 p.m. TV newscasts.
The State Canvassing Board was already scheduled to meet tomorrow to certify the results of the recount, which never gave Emmer and the Republicans any better news than the roughly 9,000-vote lead that Dayton enjoyed when the polls closed on Election Day.
If all this shapes up the way it appears tonight, Dayton will be the first Democratic governor in Minnesota since Rudy Perpich was first elected in 1986. He'll face a a $6.2 billion state budget deficit. And he'll have to cope with that, and move his own agenda as best he can, with a newly Republican-controlled state Legislature.
In the past week, Republican Party insiders began to speak openly about moving on. And Public Policy Polling recently released a survey that said most Minnesotans were of the same mind. Even rank and file GOPers sensed the curtain was coming down:
68% think that Dayton was the true victor to only 21% who think it was Emmer and 11% who aren't sure. Predictably 95% of Democrats think Dayton won and 72% of independents do as well. What might be more surprising is the numbers with Republicans. Fewer than half- 46%- think Emmer won while 37% think Dayton was actually the winner.
With the recount clearly not helping him, and after being forced to withdraw bushels of frivolous ballot challenges, Emmer had seemed to pin his last hopes on finding something worth challenging in the high court's opinion released today.
But the news tonight of his pending concession shows that either his team found nothing, or they looked at themselves, and probably their bank account, and figured they didn't have the fight left in them. We'll probably hear more about that tomorrow.
The 18-page opinion explained its earlier rejection of Emmer's petition asking that election officials across the state be ordered to go back and match the number of ballots cast in each precinct with the number of voters' signatures on the rolls. Anything less breaks state law, they argued.
But the court agreed with the Secretary of State and Mark Dayton's lawyers, who argued that an administrative rule set in place decades ago gives local election officials an alternative and perfectly legal method for comparing the number of voters to the number of votes cast: They can -- and some did -- compare the final vote tally to the number of recorded ballot receipts instead.
State GOP chair Tony Sutton issued a somber statement following the court's opinion.
"While we are disappointed in today's decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court, we will continue to take this process one day at a time. As the next step in this legally mandated recount, we look forward to tomorrow's State Canvassing Board meeting."
There was nothing about Emmer's pending concession on his party's official website this evening.
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