Governor candidates praise heavy debate schedule after meeting for 26th timeby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — All three major party candidates for governor said Sunday they were glad they took part in so many debates.
Democrat Mark Dayton, Republican Tom Emmer and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner have appeared together in 26 debates since the Aug. 10 primary.
"They'll go down in history for it," said Larry Jacobs, director of the Humphrey Institute's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.
Jacobs said voters in other states are lucky to see candidates for a statewide office meet even once or twice.
During their debate Sunday at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Emmer was perhaps the most enthusiastic about the ambitious debate schedule.
"This has been fantastic," he said. "This has given me the opportunity with these two fine men to introduce myself to Minnesotans all over the state."
Dayton said the debates served an important purpose.
"It's an antidote for 30 second commercials and seven second sound bites. And it's given people all over Minnesota a chance to see us first hand and hear from us directly," he said.
During the debate, members of the audience had a chance to ask questions of the candidates. Moderator Gary Eichten, host of MPR's Midday, also had the candidates ask questions of each other.
Horner said the debates helped him because he couldn't compete financially with the Dayton and Emmer. Still, Horner said he thought there should have been more debates outside of the Twin Cities.
"Part of the value is interacting with a live audience, dealing with the people. We ought to be part of greater Minnesota more than we have," he said.
Monday's final campaign swing takes Dayton to Duluth, Hibbing, Moorhead, Worthington and Rochester, followed by rallies Monday night in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Emmer is scheduled to visit 19 cities in a 25-hour period, beginning with Anoka and ending in his hometown of Delano.
Horner will travel in Southern Minnesota and then hold a rally tonight in St. Paul.
(MPR reporter Elizabeth Dunbar contributed to this report.)