Minnesota gubernatorial election, 2010

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Minnesota gubernatorial election, 2010

← 2006 November 2, 2010 2014 →
  150x150px Tom Emmer official portrait 114th Congress.jpg
Nominee Mark Dayton Tom Emmer Tom Horner
Party DFL Republican Independence
Running mate Yvonne Prettner Solon Annette Meeks Jim Mulder
Popular vote 919,232 910,462 251,487
Percentage 43.6% 43.2% 11.9%

County results

Governor before election

Tim Pawlenty

Elected Governor

Mark Dayton

The 2010 Minnesota gubernatorial election was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2010 to elect the 40th Governor of the U.S. state of Minnesota for a four-year term to begin in January 2011. The general election was contested by the major party candidates State Representative Tom Emmer (RDelano), former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton (DFL), and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner. After a very close race, Dayton was elected Governor.[1]


The 2010 gubernatorial election saw an exceptionally large field of candidates seeking endorsement from each party's respective convention. In the DFL and the Independence Parties there were protracted primary fights that extended into August. The state's three major parties participated in the general election along with four minor parties.

Republican primary

After incumbent Governor Tim Pawlenty announced in June 2009 that he would not seek a third term,[2] the field was open for Republicans to seek their party's endorsement. At the Minnesota GOP's off-year state convention in October 2009, former Representative Marty Seifert took first place in a straw poll with 37% of the vote. Representative Tom Emmer took second place with 23%, Patricia Anderson had 14%, and the rest of the participating candidates received less than 10% each.[3][4]

Seifert had another victory in the February 2 precinct caucuses, winning a statewide straw poll of caucus attendees with 50% of the vote, followed by Emmer with 39%. None of the other candidates got beyond single digits.[5] Delegates to the state convention, however, were more closely divided between Emmer and Seifert than the initial straw poll indicated. Both camps claimed a delegate lead throughout the process leading up to the state convention, but the outcome was uncertain and was ultimately decided on the convention floor.[6]

On April 30, Emmer won the Republican endorsement at the party's state convention in Minneapolis. After Emmer won 56% of the vote on the second ballot, Seifert withdrew from the race and threw his support to Emmer. Emmer then chose Metropolitan Council member Annette Meeks as his running mate for lieutenant governor.[7]

Emmer won the August 10 primary, earning a spot on the November ballot.[8]






Republican primary results[31]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Tom Emmer 107,558 82.5
Republican Bob Carney Jr. 9,856 7.6
Republican Leslie Davis 8,598 6.6
Republican Ole Savior 4,396 3.4
Total votes 130,408 100

DFL primary

The list of candidates seeking the DFL's nomination was long going into the February 2 caucuses, with over 11 candidates having submitted their names for the candidate preference ballot. Former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton notably declined to be included on the ballot. Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak won the straw poll with 21.8% of the vote, with State House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher receiving 20.1%, and "uncommitted" receiving 14.7%. The other each candidates received single-digit support.[32][33]

Former State Senator Steve Kelley dropped out of the race after a disappointing result in the straw poll. State Senator Tom Bakk also dropped out on March 20 after announcing at the St. Louis County Convention that he believed his chances of winning were slim.

On April 24, the DFL State Convention was held in Duluth. State Senator John Marty withdrew from the race after seeing lower than expected support on the first ballot, and State Representative Tom Rukavina withdrew after the fourth ballot, endorsing Kelliher. State Representative Paul Thissen withdrew after the fifth ballot, and before the results of the sixth ballot were announced, Rybak withdrew as well, endorsing Kelliher.[34] Kelliher was subsequently endorsed by the convention. Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner, who had not sought the DFL endorsement but was planning to run in the primary, dropped out two days later. That left Kelliher facing Dayton and former State House Minority Leader Matt Entenza in the August primary.

Shortly after the end of the 2010 legislative term, all three major DFL candidates had announced their choices for lieutenant governor. On May 21, Kelliher announced that John Gunyou would be her running mate. Gunyou is Minnetonka City Manager and was state finance commissioner in Republican Governor Arne Carlson's administration.[35] On May 24, Dayton announced Yvonne Prettner Solon as his running mate. Solon is a psychologist and three-term state senator.[36] On May 27, Entenza announced Robyne Robinson as his running mate. Robinson is a small-business owner and former TV anchor.[37]

Dayton narrowly won the August 10 primary, earning the right to serve as his party's nominee.[38] He was formally endorsed by the DFL on August 21.[39]






Poll source Dates administered Mark Dayton Matt Entenza Margaret Anderson Kelliher Undecided Sampling error
Survey USA August 2–4, 2010 43% 22% 27% 8% 4.5%
Minnesota Poll July 26–29, 2010 40% 17% 30% 13% 7.3%
Survey USA June 14–16, 2010 39% 22% 26% 11% 4.5%
Humphrey Institute / MPR May 13–16, 2010 38% 6% 28% 28% 8.75%


At 11:50 p.m. on primary night, Dayton took the lead from Kelliher, who had held an ever-shrinking lead since the polls closed.

Democratic–Farmer–Labor primary results[31]
Party Candidate Votes %
DFL Mark Dayton 182,738 41.3
DFL Margaret Anderson Kelliher 175,767 39.8
DFL Matt Entenza 80,509 18.2
DFL Peter Idusogie 3,123 0.7
Total votes 442,137 100

Independence primary

On Sunday, May 9, 2010, Tom Horner won the endorsement of the Independence Party for governor. His main opponent, Rob Hahn, said he would contest the primary.[51]

Horner won the August 10 primary, defeating Hahn to earn a place on the November ballot.[8]


  • Rob Hahn and Thomas J. Harens[9][52]
  • Tom Horner, public affairs consultant; and Jim Mulder[9][53]
  • Phil Ratté and Gayle-Lynn Lemaster[9][54][55]
  • John T. Uldrich and Stephen Williams[9]
  • Rahn V. Workcuff and Mark F. Workcuff[9]




Independence Party primary results[60]
Party Candidate Votes %
Independence Tom Horner 11,380 64.2
Independence Rob Hahn 2,538 14.3
Independence John T. Uldrich 1,766 10.0
Independence Phile Ratté 1,215 7.0
Independence Rahn V. Workcuff 815 4.5
Total votes 17,714 100

General election

Early polls showed Emmer even with his likely DFL opponents, with Horner trailing far behind, and a large percentage of voters undecided.[61][62][63] As the race progressed, polls showed the candidates even, or Dayton with a small but significant lead.[64] The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, CQ Politics and pollster Rasmussen Reports rated the gubernatorial election a tossup,[65][66][67][68][69] while New York Times political statistician Nate Silver gave Dayton an 86% chance of winning and Emmer 14%.[70]

Dayton led Emmer at the close of balloting by 8770 votes (0.42%).[71] The margin of victory was small enough to trigger an automatic recount under state law, but analysts generally thought it unlikely that Dayton's lead would be overturned.[72]

Dayton became just the fourth victorious Minnesota Democrat to win a gubernatorial election with a Democrat in the White House in 28 cycles.[73]



Poll source Dates administered Tom Emmer (R) Mark Dayton (DFL) Tom Horner (I) Undecided Sampling error
Public Policy Polling October 27–29, 2010 40% 43% 15% 3% 2.2%
SurveyUSA October 24–27, 2010 38% 39% 13% 9% 4%
Minnesota Public Radio October 21–25, 2010 29% 41% 11% 20% 3.6%
St. Cloud State University October 10–21, 2010 30% 40% 19% 10% 5.0%
Minnesota Poll October 18–21, 2010 34% 41% 13% 12% 3.9%
Rasmussen Reports October 20, 2010 41% 44% 10% 5% 4.0%
Survey USA October 11–13, 2010 37% 42% 14% 7% 3.7%
Rasmussen Reports October 6, 2010 38% 40% 15% 7% 4%
Humphrey Institute/MPR September 22–26, 2010 27% 38% 16% 19% 3.6%
Minnesota Poll September 20–23, 2010 30% 39% 18% 13% 4.1%
Rasmussen Reports September 22, 2010 42% 41% 9% 2% 4%
Survey USA September 12–14, 2010 36% 38% 18% 4% 3.9%
Humphrey Institute/MPR August 31, 2010 34% 34% 13% 19% 3.6 – 5.3%
Rasmussen Reports August 12, 2010 36% 45% 10% 10% 4.0%
Survey USA August 2–4, 2010 32% 46% 9% 13% 2.7%
Minnesota Poll July 26–29, 2010 30% 40% 13% 17% 4.3%
Rasmussen Reports July 19, 2010 36% 40% 10% 14% 4.5%
Survey USA June 14–16, 2010 35% 38% 12% 15% 2.5%
Decision Resources, Ltd. May 28 – June 2, 2010 28% 40% 18% 14% 3.5%
Rasmussen Reports May 24, 2010 37% 35% 12% 16% 4.5%
Humphrey Institute/MPR May 13–16, 2010 31% 35% 9% 25% 5.8%
Survey USA May 3–5, 2010 42% 34% 9% 15% 4.1%
Rasmussen Reports March 10, 2010 35% 38% 7% 20% 3%


2010 gubernatorial election results, Minnesota[71]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DFL Mark Dayton 919,232 43.63% -2.07%
Republican Tom Emmer 910,462 43.21% -3.49%
Independence Tom Horner 251,487 11.94% +5.54%
Grassroots Chris Wright 7,516 0.36% n/a
Green Farheen Hakeem 6,188 0.29% -0.21%
Ecology Democracy Ken Pentel 6,180 0.29% n/a
Resource Party Linda Eno 4,092 0.19% n/a
Write-ins 1,864 0.09%
Total votes 2,106,979 100
DFL gain from Republican

Ballot recount

Olmsted County, Minnesota officials recounting votes on November 29, 2010

The recount was carried out by the Minnesota Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, as part of a State Canvassing Board, which consists of the secretary of state, two justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and two judges of a Minnesota district court.[74] The vote totals were not significantly changed, and Dayton was declared the governor-elect.


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External links

Official campaign websites