Races for governor, school board too close to call

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October 25, 2010 // UPDATED 11:09 am - November 3, 2010
By: Dylan Thomas and Jake Weyer
Dylan Thomas and Jake Weyer

The race for Minnesota governor was still a toss-up early Nov. 3, just before this issue of The Journal went to press.

Democrat Mark Dayton’s 9,769-vote lead over Republican Tom Emmer represented less than one half of one percent, putting it within the threshold for a mandatory recount. The vote totals were 905,381 (43.67 percent) for Dayton and 895,612 (43.20 percent) for Emmer with nearly 97 percent of precincts reporting. Independence Party candidate Tom Horner was a distant third with 247,106 votes (11.92 percent).

Roughly 3.1 million Minnesotans made it to the polls on election night, 470,470 of them in Hennepin County. The county voted strongly for Dayton, with 237,995 (50.81 percent) casting a ballot for him compared to 168,518 (35.98 percent) for Emmer and 57,116 (12.19 percent) for Horner. Downtown and Northeast also backed the Democrat, giving him more than 60 percent of the vote in most precincts.

A close race for two at-large seats on the Minneapolis School Board also appeared to be headed for a recount the morning after Election Day.

Though the school board race was close, there was no question about Jenny Arneson’s victory in Northeast in the race for a District 1 School Board seat.

Arneson trounced former Minneapolis Public Schools teacher Mike Endrizzi, winning two-thirds of all votes cast in District 1, according to Hennepin County’s unofficial tally. It was the first election in which Minneapolis voters elected both at-large and district candidates to the School Board.

If preliminary vote totals hold, Arneson, a district parent with a background in social work, will be joined on the School Board by District 3 victor Hussein Samatar and Alberto Monserrate, who defeated challenger John Saulsberry by more than 15 percentage points in District 5.

Youth worker Richard Mammen and district parent and volunteer Rebecca Gagnon appeared to take the two open at-large seats on the board, but Gagnon edged third-place finisher Chanda Smith Baker by less than 1,000 votes. Smith Baker said Wednesday morning she would consider asking for a recount.

“I ran hard, I had a lot of people supporting me,” Smith Baker said. “It’s so close, and with the glitches last night, the recommendation around the table was certainly, everybody who contributed, everyone who’s around would like to see (me) on the board.”

In any case, School Board Member T. Williams, the only incumbent running for re-election, will not return to the board after finishing well back in fourth place.

Hennepin County Public Information Officer Carol Allis confirmed there was an “electronic glitches” as county votes totals came in Election Day night. The errors were resolved, Allis said, and it was unclear if they would impact the School Board race.

“Something happened with the way the votes were counted coming in from Eden Prairie,” Allis said. “… That was resolved by about 1 (a.m.).”

And even while Republican victories across the state gave that party control of the Minnesota Legislature for the first time in decades, voters in Northeast and Downtown chose to send long-serving DFLers back to St. Paul.

State senators Linda Higgins (DFL-58), Larry Pogemiller (DFL-59) and Scott Dibble (DFL-60) all won re-election easily, as did state representatives Diane Loeffler (DFL-59A) and Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-58B). DFLer Marion Greene won her first election with nearly 80 percent of the vote in house district 60A, and will take over the seat formerly occupied by Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who chose not to seek re-election after failing to win her party’s gubernatorial endorsement.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat, faired the same in the region and beyond, handily winning a second term over Republican challenger Joel Demos.

The area’s incumbent county commissioners, Mark Stenglein (District 2), Gail Dorfman (District 3) and Peter McLaughlin (District 4) were also reelected by wide margins.

An amendment to give the Minneapolis Charter Commission the responsibility of drawing political boundaries, such as City Council wards, passed with more than 55 percent of the vote. 

Election judges at precincts throughout the city reported steady traffic throughout the day. Election Judge Kristin, who presided over Northeast’s Ward 1 Precinct 8 polling location, at the RiverVillage Catholic elder care facility, 2919 Randolph St. NE, said the Nov. 2 proceedings were blissfully dull.

“It’s pretty much your standard, ordinary general election,” she said.