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Former Democratic senator Dayton first major candidate to file for governor; selects Duluth sen. as running mate

Brad Anderson, with the secretary of state's office, left, briefs Mark Dayton, right, and Yvonne Prettner Solon on an information packet about running for governor. Dayton on Monday became the first Democrat to officially file for governor. Prettner Solon is his running mate. Tribune photo by Don Davis

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota governor's race is heating up with the deadline to file for office a week away.

On Monday, former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton became the first major candidate to file for governor. Rumors about a fellow Democratic candidate's running mate hit the Internet just as Dayton and his running mate, state Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon of Duluth, were talking to reporters.

Several Twin Cities media reported that a news anchor said former state Rep. Matt Entenza asked her to be his running mate. Robyne Robinson already had announced she will leave Fox9 this week, and on Monday said she has not decided whether she will accept the Entenza offer.

An Entenza campaign spokesman said no lieutenant governor decision had been made.

Until the Dayton-Prettner Solon paperwork was recorded, the only governor candidate to have filed was perennial candidate Ole Savior and his running mate, Elvis impersonator Todd Anderson.

This morning will be busy for candidates when many Republican legislative candidates plan to file their paperwork, along with GOP governor candidate Rep. Tom Emmer and running mate Annette Meeks.

Also planning to file are House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and running mate John Gunyou of the DFL.

Entenza plans to name his running mate via Twitter, reportedly on Wednesday

Winners of the Aug. 10 primary head to the Nov. 2 general election.

Dayton, 63, said Prettner Solon, 64, would lead his office's senior citizen involvement.

"Yvonne is the first and only person I asked to be my running mate," Dayton said.

Prettner Solon said she admires Dayton's "incredible integrity."

Flanked at a Duluth news conference by friends, family, her parents, children and her grandchild, Prettner Solon said she was eager to accept Dayton's offer.

"I know that he is not running because he needs to be governor, but because he cares deeply for the people of Minnesota and he knows what needs to be done to put our state back on track," Prettner Solon said.

She said she was upset that Democratic legislative leaders gave in to Gov. Tim Pawlenty as the annual session ended last week with a $3 billion budget-balancing bill. It lacked new taxes that could have kept more programs in place.

"It was unfortunate that we capitulated," she said.

Her political life began with her 1988 election to the Duluth City Council. She won her Senate seat in 2002, a job vacated when her husband, Sam Solon, died.

The University of Minnesota Duluth graduate is a clinical psychologist.

Republicans used the Prettner Solon announcement to remind voters of what some called erratic behavior when Dayton was U.S. senator, including being the only federal lawmaker to close his office upon reports of possible Capitol attacks.

"Mark Dayton's selection of Yvonne Prettner Solon is more significant than most lieutenant governor picks," GOP Chairman Tony Sutton said. "His track record as a U.S. senator was not good, so if he is lucky enough to be elected, there's a pretty good chance she might get to be governor, or at least acting governor after Dayton abandons the state Capitol in light of the threat of terrorist attacks."

The filing deadline a week from today applies to a wide variety of candidates, including statewide offices of governor, attorney general, auditor and secretary of state; all 201 legislative seats; congressional offices; judgeships; and county offices. Cities and school districts that hold primaries also are accepting candidate paperwork for another week.

The filing period was moved up about six weeks to allow for the Aug. 10 primary. The primary was advanced a month to give military personnel and other Americans overseas time to get their ballots in.

John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune contributed to this story. Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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.