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Dayton fails to visit all 87 counties in 86 days

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton announced in January that he would travel to all 87 Minnesota counties this summer and fall in 86 days. The 86-day period came and went this week and he failed to meet that goal. The governor and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, ...

Governor Mark Dayton chats with Larry Buboltz of the Detroit Lakes Public Utilities Commision during his visit to Detroit Lakes Thursday.
Minensota Gov. Mark Dayton chats with Larry Buboltz of the Detroit Lakes Public Utilities Commision during his visit to Detroit Lakes on Aug. 17, 2016. (Forum News Service photo)

ST. PAUL - Gov. Mark Dayton announced in January that he would travel to all 87 Minnesota counties this summer and fall in 86 days.

The 86-day period came and went this week and he failed to meet that goal. The governor and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, with whom Dayton split the state's counties, have visited only about two-thirds of the state's counties.

Dayton's visits were hampered by statewide events, like the monthlong Allina nurses strike and the police shooting of Philando Castile, which brought protests to Dayton's St. Paul home. The governor also canceled several events in recent months. Dayton said Wednesday that he underestimated the number of times unanticipated events would get in the way of the tour.

"I take responsibility for not meeting the schedule," the governor said. But he plans to get back to the visiting after the election, this time without a time limit for completion.

The DFL governor had pitched the tour - a reprise of his 2010 gubernatorial campaign tour of all 87 counties in 87 days - as a way for him to hear firsthand how Minnesotans are coping with life in the state.

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"One of my roles is to listen. Engage with people. Listen to their hopes and dreams as well as their problems and concerns," he told the Pioneer Press in July.

But many of the counties in western and southern Minnesota did not experience that listening ear. As of Tuesday - the 86th day of the tour - he and Smith had visited 50 counties.

In many of the stops he did complete, Dayton visited with elected and company officials and not necessarily the general public.

Despite missing out on his official travel, the governor did manage to attend at least 50 campaign events for DFL candidates. The governor said that did not show a prioritization of politics above state business.

"Virtually all of those campaign events are evening events and virtually all of my meetings, my travel meetings to the counties (were) during the day time, so there's very little overlap," Dayton said.

Minnesota counties the governor did not visit during his attempt to be in each of the state's 87 counties in 86 days: Stearns, Scott, Wright, Sherburne, Blue Earth, Rice, Winona, Kandiyohi, Benton, Mower, Steele, McLeod, Morrison, Freeborn, Le Sueur, Brown, Meeker, Fillmore, Martin, Waseca, Houston, Renville, Sibley, Faribault, Cottonwood, Pope, Watonwan, Jackson, Stevens, Rock, Swift, Pipestone, Wilkin, Grant, Lincoln, Big Stone and Traverse.

Related Topics: TINA SMITH
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