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FILE In this July 1, 2010 file photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher smiles during a debate in St. Paul, Minn. Anderson Kelliher is one of three Democrats who will be running in an Aug. 10 primary to elect a Democratic nominee. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

AP: Dayton edges ahead of Kelliher in Minn gov primary, recount eyed in tight race

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Update 11:58 p.m.

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Mark Dayton has pulled ahead of Margaret Anderson Kelliher in the race for Minnesota's Democratic nomination for governor with most of the vote in.

Dayton, a former U.S. senator, trailed in early returns Tuesday but surged in the Democratic stronghold of northeastern Minnesota. He led Kelliher, the state House speaker, by less than a half-percentage point with about 91 percent of the vote counted.

A third candidate, attorney Matt Entenza, conceded defeat early.

Kelliher had the party's endorsement, but Dayton had the familiar name and more money.

The winner will face Republican Rep. Tom Emmer and the Independence Party's Tom Horner, a former GOP strategist.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Update 11:30 p.m.

DFL race boils down to northern Minn votes, recount eyed in tight race

ST. PAUL -- The Democratic-Farmer-Laborite governor's primary election race hinged on northern Minnesota counties, and a possible recount was being discussed late Tuesday.

With votes trickling in from northern Minnesota, Margaret Anderson Kelliher's all-night lead shrunk as Mark Dayton gathered more votes from northern counties.

Kelliher, looking to become the state's first woman governor, had 41 percent of the vote, compared to Dayton's 40 percent, with 87 percent of precincts reporting in unofficial returns. The margin was about 1,300 votes, close enough that a mandatory recount could be needed.

Matt Entenza, who conceded 90 minutes after the polls closed, had 18 percent.

Dayton said he expected his numbers to improve as St. Louis County and other Iron Range votes are counted. He credited his running mate, Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon of Duluth, for the ticket doing well in the northeast.

However, Twin Cities-area counties have more votes than others and Dayton would have to dominate in other areas to win.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said he is ready for a recount if needed. A primary election recount two years ago took three days.

St. Louis County was the largest one remaining to send in most of its votes late Tuesday, but a number of others such as Carlton, Cook, Mahnomen, Pine and Roseau also reported few votes.

Kelliher is the first woman candidate endorsed by a major party, but the two men in the race spent millions of dollars of their own money in the campaign.

Dayton, with decades in the public eye, hoped that senior citizens turned out in large numbers on a hot and sometimes rainy day to make the difference. Dayton was the leader of polls leading up to the election, in part because his family started the Dayton and Target department store chains and in part because he is a long-time public servant.

Kelliher and Entenza hoped their strategies of targeting specific potential voters would be more successful than the Dayton campaign's wooing of senior citizens.

Entenza conceded at 9:25 p.m.

"In a democracy, of course, the people speak," Entenza said.

It all boiled down to the relatively few voters who went to the polls Tuesday, fighting the heat, rain and a primary that came a month earlier than normal during busy a busy summer month. All those factors added up to what most observers predicted to be a light turnout in a state that leads the country in general election voting.

The Democratic-Farmer-Laborite winner will face Republican Tom Emmer and Tom Horner of the Independence Party. Emmer faced token opposition. Only Rob Hahn mounted a serious campaign against Horner, but Horner easily won.

Emmer said it was ready to take on any DFL candidate: "It won't matter because the message is the same."

In other races, Democratic incumbent Mark Ritchie beat perennial candidate Dick Franson, DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson easily beat challenger Leo F. Meyer and Republican attorney general candidate Chris Barden won over Sharon Anderson, who regularly runs for the office.

In U.S. House races, party-endorsed Dan Powers in the 2nd Congressional District lost in the DFL primary to Shelley Madore, who faces U.S. Rep. John Kline, and in western Minnesota's 7th district GOP-endorsed Lee Byberg beat Alan Roebke for the right to face U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson.

Winners of Tuesday's primary advance to the Nov. 2 general election.

By far the most attention was paid to the DFL governor's race.

Kelliher had the advantage of being endorsed by the party's state convention, which brought with it manpower and lists of potential voters. She said with that, she could target potential voters without spending money to air television commercials for weeks before the election.

The Kelliher campaign also worked to get absentee votes, which may have helped her vote total.

The secretary of state's office reported more than 30,000 absentee votes were cast in the election, more than any previous non-presidential year primary.

Democrats emphasize this year's governor race because they see an opening to get back into an office they last won 24 years ago. About 30 candidates jumped into the race soon after Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced he would not run for a third term.

In the governor campaign, Dayton, 63, emphasized one issue above all others: Income and property taxes need to rise for the richest Minnesotans.

While Dayton would boost income taxes on people earning $150,000 or more a year, Kelliher and Entenza set the mark at $250,000.

Dayton has been state auditor, state economic development commissioner and U.S. senator. The Minneapolis resident and heir to a department store fortune also ran for other offices and lost in a career devoted to public service.

Kelliher, 42, is ending her second term as House speaker, capping a 12-year house career. She touted her victory over Pawlenty in raising fuel taxes to increase transportation funding.

Entenza spent more than $5 million of his own money into the primary contest, with Dayton contributing less to his campaign. Dayton spent more than $3 million.

The money already spent is more than any other governor's race in state history.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co. Marty Owings of KFAI radio contributed to this story.

Update 11:15 p.m.

Update: Kelliher, Dayton close, Dems wait on votes from up north

ST. PAUL - The Democratic-Farmer-Laborite governor's primary election race hinged on northern Minnesota counties, and a possible recount was being discussed late Tuesday.

With votes trickling in from northern Minnesota, Margaret Anderson Kelliher's all-night lead shrunk as Mark Dayton gathered more votes from northern counties.

Kelliher, looking to become the state's first woman governor, had 41 percent of the vote, compared to Dayton's 40 percent, with 83 percent of precincts reporting in unofficial returns. The margin was about 5,000 votes.

Matt Entenza, who conceded 90 minutes after the polls closed, had 18 percent.

Dayton said he expected his numbers to improve as St. Louis County and other Iron Range votes are counted. He credited his running mate, Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon of Duluth, for the ticket doing well in the northeast.

However, Twin Cities-area counties have more votes than others and Dayton would have to dominate in other areas to win.

Dayton said the race could end with a 2,000- to 3,000-vote difference. If the smaller number holds, it could be close enough to require a recount.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said he is ready for a recount if needed. A primary election recount two years ago took three days.

St. Louis County was the largest one remaining to send in most of its votes late Tuesday, but a number of others such as Carlton, Cook, Mahnomen, Pine and Roseau also reported few votes.

Kelliher is the first women candidate endorsed by a major party, but the two men in the race spent millions of dollars of their own money in the campaign.

Dayton, with decades in the public eye, hoped that senior citizens turned out in large numbers on a hot and sometimes rainy day to make the difference. Dayton was the leader of polls leading up to the election, in part because his family started the Dayton and Target department store chains and in part because he is a long-time public servant.

Kelliher and Entenza hoped their strategies of targeting specific potential voters would be more successful than the Dayton campaign's wooing of senior citizens.

Entenza conceded at 9:25 p.m.

"In a democracy, of course, the people speak," Entenza said.

It all boiled down to the relatively few voters who went to the polls Tuesday, fighting the heat, rain and a primary that came a month earlier than normal during busy a busy summer month. All those factors added up to what most observers predicted to be a light turnout in a state that leads the country in general election voting.

The Democratic-Farmer-Laborite winner will face Republican Tom Emmer and Tom Horner of the Independence Party. Emmer faced token opposition. Only Rob Hahn mounted a serious campaign against Horner, but Horner easily won.

Emmer said it was ready to take on any DFL candidate: "It won't matter because the message is the same."

In other races, Democratic incumbent Mark Ritchie beat perennial candidate Dick Franson, DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson easily beat challenger Leo F. Meyer and Republican attorney general candidate Chris Barden appeared to beat Sharon Anderson, who regularly runs for the office.

In U.S. House races, party-endorsed Dan Powers in the 2nd Congressional District lost in the DFL primary to Shelley Madore, who faces U.S. Rep. John Kline, and in western Minnesota's 7th district GOP-endorsed Lee Byberg beat Alan Roebke for the right to face U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson.

Winners of Tuesday's primary advance to the Nov. 2 general election.

By far the most attention was paid to the DFL governor's race.

Kelliher had the advantage of being endorsed by the party's state convention, which brought with it manpower and lists of potential voters. She said with that, she could target potential voters without spending money to air television commercials for weeks before the election.

The Kelliher campaign also worked to get absentee votes, which may have helped her vote total.

The secretary of state's office reported more than 30,000 absentee votes were cast in the election, more than any previous non-presidential year primary.

Democrats emphasize this year's governor race because they see an opening to get back into an office they last won 24 years ago. About 30 candidates jumped into the race soon after Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced he would not run for a third term.

In the governor campaign, Dayton, 63, emphasized one issue above all others: Income and property taxes need to rise for the richest Minnesotans.

While Dayton would boost income taxes on people earning $150,000 or more a year, Kelliher and Entenza set the mark at $250,000.

Dayton has been state auditor, state economic development commissioner and U.S. senator. The Minneapolis resident and heir to a department store fortune also ran for other offices and lost in a career devoted to public service.

Kelliher, 42, is ending her second term as House speaker, capping a 12-year house career. She touted her victory over Pawlenty in raising fuel taxes to increase transportation funding.

Entenza spent more than $5 million of his own money into the primary contest, with Dayton contributing less to his campaign. Dayton spent more than $3 million.

The money already spent is more than any other governor's race in state history.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co. Marty Owings of KFAI radio contributed to this story.

Update 10:50 p.m.

ST. PAUL - The Democratic-Farmer-Laborite governor's primary election race hinged on northern Minnesota counties.

Late Tuesday, with votes trickling in from northern Minnesota, Margaret Anderson Kelliher's all-night lead shrunk as Mark Dayton gathered more votes from the area.

Kelliher, looking to become the state's first woman governor, had nearly 42 percent of the vote, compared to Dayton's 39 percent, with 60 percent of precincts reporting in unofficial returns. Matt Entenza, who conceded 90 minutes after the polls closed, had 18 percent.

Dayton said he expected his numbers to improve as St. Louis County and other Iron Range votes are counted. He credited his running mate, Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon of Duluth, for the ticket doing well in the northeast.

However, Twin Cities-area counties have more votes than rural ones and Dayton would have to dominate in rural areas to win.

Dayton said the race could end with a 2,000- to 3,000-vote difference. If the smaller number holds, it could be close enough to require a recount.

St. Louis County was the largest one remaining to send in most of its votes late Tuesday, but a number of others such as Carlton, Cook, Mahnomen, Pine and Roseau also reported few votes.

Kelliher is the first women candidate endorsed by a major party, but the two men in the race spent millions of dollars of their own money in the campaign.

Dayton, with decades in the public eye, hoped that senior citizens turned out in large numbers on a hot and sometimes rainy day to make the difference. Dayton was the leader of polls leading up to the election, in part because his family started the Dayton and Target department store chains and in part because he is a long-time public servant.

Kelliher and Entenza hoped their strategies of targeting specific potential voters would be more successful than the Dayton campaign's wooing of senior citizens.

Entenza conceded at 9:25 p.m.

"In a democracy, of course, the people speak," Entenza said.

He said it was a privilege to run for governor for the past year and a half, encouraging people to continue his efforts to improve education.

All three DFL candidates are to meet with reporters Wednesday morning in what they call a unity gathering with other party leaders. Entenza said he will help to make sure the DFL is unified behind the winner.

It all boiled down to the relatively few voters who went to the polls Tuesday, fighting the heat, rain and a primary that came a month earlier than normal during busy a busy summer month. All those factors added up to what most observers predicted to be a light turnout in a state that leads the country in general election voting.

The Democratic-Farmer-Laborite winner will face Republican Tom Emmer and Tom Horner of the Independence Party. Emmer faced token opposition. Only Rob Hahn mounted a serious campaign against Horner, but Horner easily won.

Emmer said it was ready to take on any DFL candidate: "It won't matter because the message is the same."

In other races, Democratic incumbent Mark Ritchie beat perennial candidate Dick Franson, DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson easily beat challenger Leo F. Meyer and Republican attorney general candidate Chris Barden was the favorite over Sharon Anderson, who regularly runs for the office.

Most party-endorsed U.S. House candidates expected to win, although Dan Powers in the 2nd Congressional District faced a challenge in the DFL primary from Shelley Madore and in western Minnesota's 7th district GOP-endorsed Lee Byberg beat Alan Roebke.

Winners of Tuesday's primary advance to the Nov. 2 general election.

By far the most attention was paid to the DFL governor's race.

Kelliher had the advantage of being endorsed by the party's state convention, which brought with it manpower and lists of potential voters. She said with that, she could target potential voters without spending money to air television commercials for weeks before the election.

The Kelliher campaign also worked to get absentee votes, which may have helped her vote total.

The secretary of state's office reported more than 30,000 absentee votes were cast in the election, more than any previous non-presidential year primary.

Democrats emphasize this year's governor race because they see an opening to get back into an office they last won 24 years ago. About 30 candidates jumped into the race soon after Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced he would not run for a third term.

In the governor campaign, Dayton, 63, emphasized one issue above all others: Income and property taxes need to rise for the richest Minnesotans.

While Dayton would boost income taxes on people earning $150,000 or more a year, Kelliher and Entenza set the mark at $250,000.

Dayton has been state auditor, state economic development commissioner and U.S. senator. The Minneapolis resident and heir to a department store fortune also ran for other offices and lost in a career devoted to public service.

Kelliher, 42, is ending her second term as House speaker, capping a 12-year house career. She touted her victory over Pawlenty in raising fuel taxes to increase transportation funding.

Entenza spent more than $5 million of his own money into the primary contest, with Dayton contributing less to his campaign. Dayton spent more than $3 million.

The money already spent is more than any other governor's race in state history.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co. Marty Owings of KFAI radio contributed to this story.

Kelliher takes early DFL primary lead

Update 10 p.m.

ST. PAUL -- Margaret Anderson Kelliher took an early lead in the Democratic-Farmer-Laborite governor's primary in her bid to become the state's first women governor, but the well-known Mark Dayton was closing the margin late Tuesday and remained within striking distance as counties outside the Twin Cities began coming in.

With 43 percent of the state's 4,136 precincts reporting, House Speaker Kelliher held an unofficial 43 percent to 38 percent lead over former U.S. Sen. Dayton. Former state Rep. Matt Entenza trailed with 18 percent.

Late Tuesday, Dayton said he expected his numbers to improve as St. Louis County and other Iron Range votes began to be counted. He credited his running mate, Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon of Duluth, for doing well in the northeast.

However, Twin Cities-area counties have more votes than rural ones.

Dayton said the race could end with a 2,000- to 3,000-vote difference. If the smaller number holds, it could be close enough to require a recount.

Kelliher is the first women candidate endorsed by a major party, but the two men in the race spent millions of dollars of their own money in the campaign.

Dayton, with decades in the public eye, hoped that senior citizens turned out in large numbers on a hot and sometimes rainy day to make the difference. Dayton was the leader of polls leading up to the election, in part because his family started the Dayton and Target department store chains and in part because he is a long-time public servant.

Kelliher and Entenza hoped their strategies of targeting specific potential voters would be more successful than the Dayton campaign's wooing of senior citizens.

Entenza conceded at 9:25 p.m.

"In a democracy, of course, the people speak," Entenza said.

He said it was a privilege to run for governor for the past year and a half, encouraging people to continue his efforts to improve education.

All three DFL candidates are to meet with reporters Wednesday morning in what they call a unity gathering with other party leaders. Entenza said he will help to make sure the DFL is unified behind the winner.

It all boiled down to the relatively few voters who went to the polls Tuesday, fighting the heat, rain and a primary that came a month earlier than normal during busy a busy summer month. All those factors added up to what most observers predicted to be a light turnout in a state that leads the country in general election voting.

The Democratic-Farmer-Laborite winner will face Republican Tom Emmer and Tom Horner of the Independence Party. Emmer faced token opposition. Only Rob Hahn mounted a serious campaign against Horner, but Horner easily won.

Emmer said it was ready to take on any DFL candidate: "It won't matter because the message is the same."

In other races, Democratic incumbent Mark Ritchie beat perennial candidate Dick Franson, DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson easily beat challenger Leo F. Meyer and Republican attorney general candidate Chris Barden was the favorite over Sharon Anderson, who regularly runs for the office.

Most party-endorsed U.S. House candidates expected to win, although Dan Powers in the 2nd Congressional District faced a challenge in the DFL primary from Shelley Madore and in western Minnesota's 7th district GOP-endorsed Lee Byberg beat Alan Roebke.

Winners of Tuesday's primary advance to the Nov. 2 general election.

By far the most attention was paid to the DFL governor's race.

Kelliher had the advantage of being endorsed by the party's state convention, which brought with it manpower and lists of potential voters. She said with that, she could target potential voters without spending money to air television commercials for weeks before the election.

The Kelliher campaign also worked to get absentee votes, which may have helped her vote total.

The secretary of state's office reported more than 30,000 absentee votes were cast in the election, more than any previous non-presidential year primary.

Of those voting from Minnesota (as compared to overseas absentee voters), nearly as large a percentage of ballots were rejected as in the 2008 election. That election resulted in an extended recount and court action about absentee ballots in the U.S. Senate race.

Democrats emphasize this year's governor race because they see an opening to get back into an office they last won 24 years ago. About 30 candidates jumped into the race soon after Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced he would not run for a third term.

In the governor campaign, Dayton, 63, emphasized one issue above all others: Income and property taxes need to rise for the richest Minnesotans.

While Dayton would boost income taxes on people earning $150,000 or more a year, Kelliher and Entenza set the mark at $250,000.

Dayton has been state auditor, state economic development commissioner and U.S. senator. The Minneapolis resident and heir to a department store fortune also ran for other offices and lost in a career devoted to public service.

Kelliher, 42, is ending her second term as House speaker, capping a 12-year house career. She touted her victory over Pawlenty in raising fuel taxes to increase transportation funding.

The speaker likes to tell people she lived half of her life on a Mankato-area farm, the rest in Minneapolis and she spends a lot of time in the suburbs, where her children play hockey.

Entenza, 48, served in the state House, ending his tenure as head of the Democrats. In the campaign, he emphasized his youth years in Worthington and he concentrated more on campaigning in rural areas than did the other two.

The former House minority leader lives in St. Paul.

Entenza has spent more than $5 million of his own money into the primary contest, with Dayton contributing less to his campaign. Dayton spent more than $3 million.

The money already spent is more than any other governor's race in state history.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co. Marty Owings of KFAI radio contributed to this story.

Update: Kelliher holds early DFL gov primary lead

Update 9:30 p.m.

ST. PAUL - Margaret Anderson Kelliher took an early lead in the Democratic-Farmer-Laborite governor's primary in her bid to become the state's first women governor, but the well-known Mark Dayton remained within striking distance as many of the state's votes still were out.

With 27 percent of the state's 4,136 precincts reporting, House Speaker Kelliher held an unofficial 45 percent to 37 percent lead over former U.S. Sen. Dayton. Former state Rep. Matt Entenza trailed with 18 percent.

Kelliher is the first women candidate endorsed by a major party, but the two men in the race spent millions of dollars of their own money in the campaign.

Dayton, with decades in the public eye, hoped that senior citizens turned out in large numbers on a hot and sometimes rainy day to make the difference. Dayton was the leader of polls leading up to the election, in part because his family started the Dayton and Target department store chains and in part because he is a long-time public servant.

Kelliher and Entenza hoped their strategies of targeting specific potential voters would be more successful than the Dayton campaign's wooing of senior citizens.

Entenza conceded at 9:25 p.m.

"In a democracy, of course, the people speak," Entenza said.

He said it was a privilege to run for governor for the past year and a half, encouraging people to continue his efforts to improve education.

All three DFL candidates are to meet with reporters Wednesday morning in what they call a unity gathering with other party leaders. Entenza said he will help to make sure the DFL is unified behind the winner.

It all boiled down to the relatively few voters who went to the polls Tuesday, fighting the heat, rain and a primary that came a month earlier than normal during busy a busy summer month. All those factors added up to what most observers predicted to be a light turnout in a state that leads the country in general election voting.

The Democratic-Farmer-Laborite winner will face Republican Tom Emmer and Tom Horner of the Independence Party. Emmer faced token opposition. Only Rob Hahn mounted a serious campaign against Horner, but Horner easily won.

Emmer said it was ready to take on any DFL candidate: "It won't matter because the message is the same."

In other races, Democratic incumbent Mark Ritchie beat perennial candidate Dick Franson, DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson easily beat challenger Leo F. Meyer and Republican attorney general candidate Chris Barden was the favorite over Sharon Anderson, who regularly runs for the office.

Most party-endorsed U.S. House candidates expected to win, although Dan Powers in the 2nd Congressional District faced a challenge in the DFL primary from Shelley Madore and in the 7th district GOP-endorsed Lee Byberg took a commanding lead over Alan Roebke.

Winners of Tuesday's primary advance to the Nov. 2 general election.

By far the most attention was paid to the DFL governor's race.

Kelliher had the advantage of being endorsed by the party's state convention, which brought with it manpower and lists of potential voters. She said with that, she could target potential voters without spending money to air television commercials for weeks before the election.

The Kelliher campaign also worked to get absentee votes, which may have helped her vote total.

The secretary of state's office reported more than 30,000 absentee votes were cast in the election, more than any previous non-presidential year primary.

Of those voting from Minnesota (as compared to overseas absentee voters), nearly as large a percentage of ballots were rejected as in the 2008 election. That election resulted in an extended recount and court action about absentee ballots in the U.S. Senate race.

Democrats emphasize this year's governor race because they see an opening to get back into an office they last won 24 years ago. About 30 candidates jumped into the race soon after Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced he would not run for a third term.

In the governor campaign, Dayton, 63, emphasized one issue above all others: Income and property taxes need to rise for the richest Minnesotans.

While Dayton would boost income taxes on people earning $150,000 or more a year, Kelliher and Entenza set the mark at $250,000.

Dayton has been state auditor, state economic development commissioner and U.S. senator. The Minneapolis resident and heir to a department store fortune also ran for other offices and lost in a career devoted to public service.

Kelliher, 42, is ending her second term as House speaker, capping a 12-year house career. She touted her victory over Pawlenty in raising fuel taxes to increase transportation funding.

The speaker likes to tell people she lived half of her life on a Mankato-area farm, the rest in Minneapolis and she spends a lot of time in the suburbs, where her children play hockey.

Entenza, 48, served in the state House, ending his tenure as head of the Democrats. In the campaign, he emphasized his youth years in Worthington and he concentrated more on campaigning in rural areas than did the other two.

The former House minority leader lives in St. Paul.

Entenza has spent more than $5 million of his own money into the primary contest, with Dayton contributing less to his campaign. Dayton spent more than $3 million.

The money already spent is more than any other governor's race in state history.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co. Marty Owings of KFAI radio contributed to this story.

Update 9 p.m.

ST. PAUL - Margaret Anderson Kelliher took an early lead in the Democratic-Farmer-Laborite governor's primary contest in her bid to become the state's first women governor.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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