The third day of the recount starts today and it's becoming clear that Republican Tom Emmer's strategy is to challenge ballots cast for Dayton that few think the State Canvassing Board will agree with. In Ramsey and Hennepin Counties, most of the challenged ballots that have been viewed by reporters are clear votes for Dayton and are unlikely to be sustained by the Canvassing Board.
In Hennepin County alone, the Emmer team has challenged 68 times as many ballots as the Dayton team. 894 of those challenges were deemed frivolous.
The key question to Emmer and the Republican Party is whether there's a path to victory or is it more about delaying the inevitable? GOP Chair Tony Sutton tells the AP that they may file an Election Contest, which would further delay the outcome of the race.
Another issue is how the State Canvassing Board handles the number of frivolous challenges being made by Emmer's team. A Friday meeting is tentatively scheduled to discuss the issue. Emmer's attorney sent a letter to the State Canvassing Board asking them to require local elections officials to make copies of every ballot. You can read the letter here.
The latest SOS results show Dayton lost 37 votes from the Election Night totals. It also shows Emmer has quadrupled the number of challenges statewide.
Meanwhile, the recount in Ramsey is moving along at a "regular pace."
Dayton is in Washington D.C. today to attend the Democratic Governors Association's Winter Meetings.
Forum Communications says Dayton and Emmer are taking different routes.
Under the Dome
The Vikings are preparing a stadium plan.
Republicans in the Minnesota House hire new staff. Many of them are members of the Pawlenty Administration.
The Senate passed a bill to boost food safety rules.
President Obama hopes to craft a deal with the GOP over extending the Bush tax cuts.
A Pentagon study backs the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
A bill to ban earmarks falls short in the Senate.
DFL Sen. Al Franken calls on the FCC and Justice to block the proposed Comcast/NBC merger.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann rips a $1.2 billion settlement to black farmers.
Pawlenty has two public events today and will be expected to answer questions on the pardon.
GOP Rep.-elect Chip Cravaack calls for spending cuts to rein in the federal deficit. He held a news conference in Duluth.
Pawlenty for Prez Watch
AP picks up on Pawlenty's pardon of a sex offender who allegedly committed another sex crime.
Pawlenty was in Atlanta on Tuesday.
Hennepin County Elections Manager Rachel Smith says she wants to add more counting tables to the governor's race recount. Smith says she wants to add three or four more counting tables to the 25 tables already in place. She says she wants to make the move because of a dramatic increse in ballot challenges from the Emmer campaign.
Smith says Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's office gave her permission to add more tables.
Republican Tom Emmer's campaign objected to the move. Emmer attorney Tony Trimble says he would go to court to intervene if table are added. He says they can't add tables unless they have inspectors from each campaign available. He says the Emmer campaign planned to have inspectors at 25 tables.
Update: Smith backed down and said they won't add tables or extend the hours of the recount. She says she doesn't want to be taken to court.
State Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton sharply criticized Hennepin County Elections Manager Rachel Smith today. Here's what he said:
"After overseeing an unprecedented 400,000 vote error on election night, Hennepin County Elections Manager Rachel Smith today tried to change the rules in the middle of game to advance the interests of Mark Dayton. Instead of serving as a neutral referee like Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky, Smith has repeatedly inserted herself into the action by siding with the Dayton campaign on a host of issues, including her attempt today to arbitrarily change the recount schedule. Smith also unsuccessfully tried to change the rules by expanding the number of tables and changing the 'sign in' rules for challenged ballots to discourage Emmer observers from lodging challenges. Smith's maneuvering sends a chilling signal to all Minnesotans who believe in fair play for all sides. Instead of expediting the recount, Smith's machinations have only served to slow things down. As the advocates for Tom Emmer's interests in this process, we will not be intimidated by Smith."
Smith has been saying it's the Emmer side that has been slowing down the recount by frivolously objecting to ballots that are clearly votes for Dayton.
The Dayton campaign put out its estimate of what's happening.
In Minneapolis City (about 6% of the state vote) the Emmer campaign has 1,256 frivolous challenges so far, or 59% of their statewide frivolous challenges. Overall, the rate of frivolous challenges continues to be a bit higher, but solely due to challenges in selected Minneapolis precincts. Precinct 6-2 alone had 81 total challenges and several other precincts have had 30 or more challenges.
UPDATE: Rachel Smith said this when asked about Sutton's statement:
"I don't work for either one of the parties. I'm here for the citizens of Hennepin County and we're trying to do a big job as fairly and expeditiously as we can to meet the guidelines that we were given. "
Posted at 3:17 PM on December 1, 2010
by Tom Scheck
Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and current gubernatorial vote leader Mark Dayton are urging members of the Democratic National Committee to choose Minneapolis as the host city for the Democratic National Convention in 2012.
Minneapolis is vying with Charlotte, St. Louis and Cleveland to be the host city. If chosen, the convention would be held just four years after St. Paul hosted the 2008 Republican National Convention.
Here's the letter:
To the Members of the Democratic National Convention Committee,
We are writing to you on behalf of the State of Minnesota urging the Committee to select Minneapolis as the host city for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Each finalist city presents valid reasons politically, socially and economically as to why it should be chosen to host the Convention. As you know, Minneapolis is resourceful, reliable and ready to serve Democratic National Convention goers. With vibrant cultural attractions, efficient transportation and world-class dining and hotel accommodations, we would be thrilled to host delegates, nominees and attendees alike. But, you know this and we know this decision has as much to do with politics as it does with logistics.
To that end, please keep in mind that history shows the national political convention site doesn't necessarily influence the outcome of the election. In fact, only half the time has the state in which the DNC was hosted, went for the Democratic Party in the general election.
The objective now is to select a city that will establish the proper political setting for the 2012 election. With this in mind, we firmly believe Minneapolis is the best choice for the Democratic Party. Located in the country's heartland, Minnesota is often on the list of swing states and winning the heartland has proven to be a key region in many presidential elections. Key constituencies for the Democratic Party, including labor, have a strong presence in this region and are eager to serve as hosts of this convention.
Like many others, we have seen a significant shift in our political atmosphere following the mid-term elections. Our state legislature turned from Democratic to Republican control for the first time in 38 years. We lost a 35 year veteran of the U.S. House and our congressional delegation is now split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. The one positive coming out of the election is that we appear to have elected a Democratic governor - a significant victory and one that no other finalist host city can boast. Minnesota proved that despite a tough election year across the country, Democrats can still win here - in a place Democrats will need to win to be successful in re-electing President Obama.
Remember, not only is Minnesota the state in which President Obama decided to accept his nomination but it's also the state Republicans chose for their National Convention in 2008. Our state is in play and has political importance. It's time again for Democrats to lay claim to Minnesota and help regain control in 2012.
We respectfully urge you to select Minneapolis as the site for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Senator Al Franken
Posted at 3:31 PM on December 1, 2010
by Tim Pugmire
Filed under: Tim Pawlenty
Gov. Tim Pawlenty says a sex offender who he helped pardon two years ago should now face new charges for lying on his pardon application.
Pawlenty is asking prosecutors in two counties to decide whether Jeremy Giefer committed perjury or fraud for not disclosing other unlawful behavior. Giefer is facing new charges for sexually abusing a girl before and after his 2008 pardon. He had already completed his sentence from another assault when the state pardons board acted. But Pawlenty said today the pardon wouldn't have been granted if other allegations were known.
"If the current allegations against him result in a conviction or in any indication of illegal behavior, he perjured himself and lied to us and may have committed other forms of fraud or misrepresentation before a governmental agency or board," Pawlenty said.
Pawlenty said he's not thinking about the potential political damage from his role in the pardon. He said his concern is with the victim.
After the third day of counting ballots, Democrat Mark Dayton picked up three votes on Republican Tom Emmer when you compare the latest Secretary of State recount results to Election Night totals. 84 percent of the ballots cast on Election Night have been recounted.
Emmer's team has also challenged four times as many ballots as Dayton's team. Emmer made 679 legitimate ballot challenges. Dayton made 163 ballot challenges.
All but five counties have finished the recount. The remaining counties are Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, Dakota and St. Louis.
The State Canvassing Board is scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss the number of frivolous challenges being made by the campaigns and whether the five member board should review them. Elections officials say Emmer is making most of the frivolous challenges.