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Pawlenty passes baton to Dayton

Incoming governor Mark Dayton tells reporters that he worked Thursday morning on smiling without looking like he is grimacing. News accounts had reported that on Wednesday Dayton was serious as he accepted the governor race victory. Behind him is current Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

ST. PAUL - It was the Dayton and Pawlenty show this afternoon as the current and new Minnesota governors talked to reporters.

The pair, one Democrat and one Republican, joked and praised each other for half an hour, refusing to say anything critical.

Their news conference came after they met for the first time since a state election board Wednesday declared Democrat Mark Dayton the winner of the governor race against Tom Emmer, who conceded Wednesday morning after he failed to pick up votes during a statewide recount. After the news conference, Pawlenty and his wife, Mary, gave Dayton and his two sons a tour of the governor's residence.

"Peaceful transition of democracy is a wonder thing," Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty said he "has enjoyed his company" over the years, and praised Dayton for attending military funerals.

Dayton returned the compliment and said Pawlenty is leaving a strong pro-military legacy.

Pawlenty said that Dayton may move into office space across the street from the Capitol whenever he wants, and the state will fund a transition effort with $162,000.

"Today is the ceremonial passing of the baton," Pawlenty said.

Dayton made one announcement, that he would keep Tom Sorel on as transportation commissioner. Sorel accepted the offer.

The Pawlenty appointee had another job opportunity, Dayton said, so he moved quickly to keep the man who has been widely praised for his work.

Dayton said he will announce is chief of staff selection Friday and he plans to make several more announcements of key aides before he takes office.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.