Transcript: Emmer's concession speech
Delano, Minn. — Republican Tom Emmer conceded the governor's race to Democrat Mark Dayton on Wednesday. Flanked by his wife, Jacquie, and many of their children, Emmer spoke in front of the family's home in Delano:
EMMER: Thank you all for coming to Delano, thanks for being in Delano. I thought I might come out and have a little fun with you and do my best Randy Quaid imitation from what was it, "Christmas Vacation?" ... But I think we'll do it in a professional way today. I have a few words that I want to give you and then I'll answer a couple questions, if you want us to.
Jacquie and I and our family started this journey over 17 months ago and it is absolutely has been one of the best experiences of our lives. Traveling this state we've been constantly reminded of the goodness and kindness of Minnesotans and the genuine love we all have for this great state. We met people in Warroad, in Zumbrota, in Winona, in East Grand Forks, in Duluth, in Worthington, in Bemidji and Owatonna. We met construction workers, truck drivers, we met college professors and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and they all have one thing in common -- a love of Minnesota and its people and a fundamental desire to keep this state the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.
I share that love of Minnesota and its people, and I have worked to serve this state to the best of my ability. I spent the past 16 months working to become governor because I have a vision of how best to meet the challenges we face over the next 40 years. I put forth that vision, offered it to Minnesotans and asked them to put their faith in us to do what is right for this state, and as you know, almost a million Minnesotans agreed with us on where this state needs to go.
Regardless of the outcome, we can be extremely proud of what we accomplished. Against all odds, a political outsider -- a family man with a small business background -- secured a major party endorsement and ran on a populist message that government must be redesigned and reformed to serve the people, and not the other way around. Our campaign came from virtual obscurity and came within about 8,700 votes of accomplishing what many predicted was not possible: a common-sense conservative winning the governor's race in the state of Minnesota on a message of smaller government, individual liberty and economic freedom.
This is a testament to the people who encouraged us, supported us and who worked for us over the past several months. I cannot begin to thank everyone personally; the list is simply too long. I do, however, want to thank my friend David FitzSimmons, and everyone else who was there from the very beginning. I want to thank Tony and Bridget Sutton, I want to thank Jack and Annette Meeks -- I can go on and on. There are just simply too many. I see a lot of you and I'm looking at you right now. Thank you so much for everything you've done for Jacquie and I, and our family, more importantly for the message that we were delivering.
Most of all, I want to thank my family and my incredible wife, Jacquie. If there is one regret we should all have it is that this state will not get to experience Jacquie as the first lady. I expect, and I do hope you will ask him, that even Mark Dayton will agree with me on that.
This election has never been about us. It wasn't about Tom and Jacquie Emmer. It wasn't about which party, Democrat or Republican, should govern this state. It was and always has been about offering our vision to Minnesotans and asking for their support. Well, Minnesotans made that choice by however thin a margin, and we respect that choice. Now is the time for all of us to come together and do what is best for Minnesota.
Yes, the integrity of our elections is of supreme importance to the health of a representative republic. The citizens must have confidence in the election system and the outcome, whether they are pleased with the outcome or not. At the same time, it is imperative that we, and this from Jacquie and I, that we allow the next Legislature and the next governor to move ahead with the people's business - the business of governing this state.
The Supreme Court has ruled that local election officials may count names on voting rosters or receipts counting ballots against voters in each precinct. The court, however, left open the issue of reconciliation, acknowledging that that process was not performed in every precinct. You'll find it if you look at the opinion at the footnote of page six; it was in a footnote. Arguably, this leaves the door open for a lawsuit contesting the election.
Some have suggested that I should consider contesting the election if any good faith basis exists, because Minnesota might then have a Republican governor and a Republican Legislature until the contest is resolved. I disagree. We must address the questions raised by recent elections in this state, but I do not believe a delay in seating the next governor will help to unite us or move our state forward. While we should not be surprised if there are citizens who might still pursue claims to attempt to address the integrity of our election system, it will not be an election contest, and I will not be involved.
Instead, I will devote my time to bring public awareness to these issues and to the need for election reform, including, but not necessarily limited to, requiring a photo I.D. for voting. In the meantime, Mark Dayton is going to be seated as the next governor of the state of Minnesota, and it is our job to make sure he can be the best governor he can possibly be. That doesn't mean agreeing with him all the time; I suspect there may be a disagreement or two, but it does mean giving him and his administration the respect it deserves.
Mark Dayton was not elected to be governor of Minnesota Democrats. He was elected to be the governor of the state of Minnesota. We congratulate him and offer to help him in any way we can. Thank you again so much for being a part of this experience and being here today. Thanks for standing out in the cold. This is my kind of weather. I guarantee one things, folks, there's not a mosquito flying anywhere in the state of Minnesota today.
(Transcript by MPR reporter intern Anissa Stocks.)