Democrat Dayton poised to become Minn. gov. elect

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Democrat Mark Dayton started putting together a transition team right after election day. With Republican Tom Emmer ready to concede the governor’s race, he’ll finally get to use it.

Emmer, bound for a recount loss and with his legal options dwindling, planned to announce his concession Wednesday morning from his home in Delano, a Republican with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press late Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak ahead of an official announcement.

A state canvassing board that had been set to begin certifying the recount at 9 a.m. Wednesday postponed its meeting at the request of Emmer’s attorney. The attorney, Eric Magnuson, said he wanted to give Emmer the courtesy of making “whatever announcement he is going to make.”

Outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty was due to meet with Dayton on Thursday in a meeting that was scheduled before Emmer made his decision. Pawlenty, who had been in line to extend his term if the race hadn’t been resolved by the Jan. 3 inaugural, was asked if he was relieved.

“We always hoped and believed it would be resolved, and on Jan. 3 there would be a new governor,” Pawlenty said.

Dayton will have access to a $162,000 transition budget.

For Dayton, the victory caps a remarkable career revival just four years after the end of a mostly ineffectual single term in the U.S. Senate. More than a month after Election Day, it is a rare bright spot for a party that was swamped in the midterm elections. And it gives Democrats back a governorship they seemed to have forgotten how to win; Dayton will break his party’s 20-year absence from the seat.

Emmer’s decision came on the same day the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an opinion that closed off a potential avenue for an election lawsuit.

Emmer trailed Dayton by nearly 9,000 votes heading into a recount that has changed little. A Democratic official close to Dayton said the senator hadn’t received a call from Emmer by late Tuesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to comment publicly on the matter.

In the Supreme Court’s decision, justices said local officials were within their power to use more than one method for pairing the number of votes and voters. In some places, officials count slips of paper known as voter receipts rather than counting signatures in polling place rosters. The goal is to make sure vote tallies in precincts match the number of voters.

During the weeklong recount, Republican volunteers challenged thousands of ballots, but most challenges were ruled frivolous by local election officials. Ultimately, almost all challenges from both sides were withdrawn. That made the state canvassing board meeting due to start Wednesday all but academic.

The next governor is to be sworn in Jan. 3, with the Legislature to convene the next day.

Though Emmer was destined to lose the recount, a lawsuit — called an election challenge — was still an option. Less than two years after the state’s rancorous U.S. Senate race spawned a lawsuit that kept that seat unfilled for half a year, some Democrats had feared the GOP would opt for one again just to keep Dayton out of office.

But even some Republicans said they hadn’t seen anything that would have supported a successful legal challenge by Emmer.

Both Dayton and Emmer created transition teams, but uncertainty over the result threatened an orderly change in administrations just as Minnesota confronts a $6.2 billion budget deficit. Dayton campaigned on a promise to tax the wealthy as part of a budget solution, and said during the recount that he intended to pursue that if confirmed as the winner. But he’ll have to work with new Republican majorities in both legislative chambers.

Dayton, 63, served a single term in the U.S. Senate from 2000-2006 before deciding not to run for a second. He worked briefly as a schoolteacher before turning to politics and public service, serving as state auditor in the 1990s and holding cabinet-level positions in two different administrations in the 1970s and ’80s.

Emmer, 49, is a three-term state legislator whose reputation as a Capitol firebrand made it a surprise for some when he beat out a more experienced lawmaker to become the GOP nominee in the spring.