Minnesota: Candidates hit road on final day of campaign

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Supporters for a variety of political candidates lined highway overpasses on Tuesday morning, some jumping enthusiastically and waving at commuters below in an effort to send people to the polls.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Supporters for a variety of political candidates lined highway overpasses on Tuesday morning, some jumping enthusiastically and waving at commuters below in an effort to send people to the polls.

With the race for governor and several congressional seats still too close to call on Tuesday morning, several candidates were making final appeals to the dwindling number of undecided voters.

Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, coming off a 24-hour bus tour, voted early Tuesday, then began calling supporters and volunteers, thanking them for their support.

``He might call a few undecided voters,' said campaign spokesman Brian McClung, adding that a ``personal call' from the governor might help push people to the polls.

His Democratic challenger, Mike Hatch, was greeting potential voters on Tuesday, and had planned to shake hands at the University of Minnesota and on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis.


Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Peter Hutchinson planned to greet morning commuters at transit stations, before calling supporters from his home.

On Monday, candidates for many close races showed no signs of slowing down.

Pawlenty had help from Republican heavyweight Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor. Hatch made a series of stops as he slowly headed north to the Iron Range, before attending rallies to rev up hardcore supporters.

``I'm asking people for their vote and asking them to get out and vote,' said Michele Bachmann, campaigning in St. Cloud on Monday as she tried keep the 6th Congressional District seat in Republican hands against a spirited challenge from Democrat Patty Wetterling. ``I want to let people know what's at stake.'

Wetterling toured several St. Cloud-area institutions, talking with children at the Roosevelt Early Childhood Center and encouraging their teachers to vote.

Teacher Melissa Geisenhof, 38, of Waite Park, told Wetterling she had her vote. ``I've got your signs in my yard,' Geisenhof said.

Wetterling, a former junior high math teacher and child-safety advocate, has made children's issues a centerpiece of her campaign.

In the equally hard-fought contest in the 1st Congressional District, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Gil Gutknecht and Democratic challenger Tim Walz were traversing wide swaths of southern Minnesota, with Gutknecht making ten campaign stops and Walz, 11.


In the U.S. Senate race, where U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy was seen to have a steeper climb than some fellow Republicans, both he and Democrat Amy Klobuchar made a day's worth of stops -- Kennedy through southern Minnesota, Klobuchar in the northern part of the state.

It was the governor's race that generated the most heat. The latest Star Tribune Minnesota Poll, released Monday night, showed Hatch and Pawlenty running about even, with Hatch at 44 percent and Pawlenty at 41 percent. The Independence Party's Peter Hutchinson was at 7 percent.

The poll, taken Sunday and Monday, had a margin of sampling error of 3.6 percentage points.

With Giuliani by his side at the Minnesota Professional Firefighters headquarters in St. Louis Park, Pawlenty hit the themes of public safety and the war on terror. Pawlenty told the crowd what they could do for the men and women fighting overseas.

``Let's honor them by making sure that we all go out and vote,' Pawlenty said.

Hatch's bus tour worked its way north to the Iron Range, hitting college campuses, restaurants and factories on the way up. His campaign dinged by two gaffes late last week, Hatch said he didn't publicize most of the stops because it would only provoke Republican counter-demonstrations.

``The real work of the day is not done by the candidates,' Hatch said. ``The real work is being done by thousands of people who are phoning and knocking on doors.'

He said contributors responded to an urgent campaign plea for $20,000 that he's using to pay for radio ads on ethanol.


Over Monday's lunch hour, Hutchinson trolled for votes outside El Burrito Mercado on St. Paul's west side. He and his running mate, Dr. Maureen Reed, passed out baseball cards bearing caricatures of themselves.

Hutchinson said he was urging people to vote their convictions, not their fears, even as the contest between the leaders had grown close.

What To Read Next
Get Local