Photo: #10/15/90: Allegations rock governor's race. Star Tribune, Oct. 15, 1990.
Photo: #10/26/1990: Grunseth, Perpich and Carlson meet in an unusual three-way debate on Twin Cities Public Television.
Photo: #Carlson reads the newspaper on Nov. 7, 1990. The previous night's election was close, but that day he would claim victory in the governor's race.
Photo: #Republican Arne Carlson declares victory on Nov. 7, 1990. He had re-entered the race just 15 days earlier. Carlson bested DFL Gov. Rudy Perpich 50-47

20 years ago: A three-week political roller coaster

by Curtis Gilbert, Minnesota Public Radio
November 5, 2010

The final three weeks of Minnesota's 1990 governor's race were tumultuous. Screaming headlines. A sex scandal. A last minute write-in campaign. An 11th-hour withdrawal and an upset victory.

10/15/90 -- The Star Tribune runs an explosive story under the banner headline "Allegations rock governor's race." In it, a young woman named Elizabeth Mulay accuses Grunseth of trying to grab her breast and remove her bathing suit during a Fourth of July party nine years earlier. Listen

The girl says Grunseth had encouraged her and three other teenage girls to swim naked with him. Two of the other girls corroborate the story. The fourth, Grunseth's stepdaughter Nina, denies it, as does Grunseth. Grunseth holds a press conference on the Capitol steps and claims Perpich is behind the allegations, calling him "the supreme liar." Perpich denies any connection to the accusations. Listen

10/19/90 -- In a second Capitol news conference, Grunseth announces he has passed a lie detector test. He claims the results exonerate him from the allegations.

10/22/90 -- Carlson announces he's launching a write-in campaign.

10/24/90 -- The pool party scandal appears to be damaging other Minnesota Republicans. After consistently showing incumbent U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz with a wide lead, the Star Tribune's Minnesota Poll shows him in a statistical dead heat with DFL challenger Paul Wellstone.

10/25/90 -- Grunseth's refusal to withdraw seems to be helping Perpich. The Minnesota poll shows the DFL governor winning easily in a three-way race and leading Grunseth in a head-to-head match-up. But it shows Carlson with a ten point lead over Perpich if Grunseth is taken out of the picture. Grunseth calls a press conference at the Holiday Inn in Bloomington. He is expected to announce he will quit the race, but supporters urge him to stay in. As television and radio stations broadcast live, Grunseth tears up his withdrawal speech and vows to fight on.

10/26/90 -- Grunseth, Perpich and Carlson meet in an unusual three-way debate on Twin Cities Public Television. Perpich's campaign manager says the governor felt his re-election was assured that night.

10/28/90 -- The Star Tribune publishes new allegations that Grunseth had an extramarital affair with a woman named Tamara Taylor. Grunseth says the affair ended in the early 80s. But Taylor claims the two had a liaison in a Washington D.C. hotel room just the year before. Grunseth withdraws from the race. He says the pressure is "more than I could bear." Listen

10/30/90 -- The Independent-Republican Party Executive Committee gives the nomination to Carlson by default, because he came in second in the primary. But the I-R ticket is still in question. Grunseth's running mate Sharon Clark refuses to withdraw from the race and the party leaves it to the state Supreme Court to decide whether Clark will remain on the ballot or be replaced by Carlson's running mate, Joanell Dyrstad.

11/1/90 -- In a rushed 5-2 decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court rules Dyrstad will be Carlson's running mate on the ballot, because state law says candidates for governor and lieutenant governor must run as a team. It agrees with Secretary of State Joan Growe's contention that Clark's candidacy was invalidated when Grunseth withdrew. The Independent-Republican Party ticket is finally settled just five days before the election.

11/6/90 -- Carlson beats Perpich 50 to 47. In another upset, Paul Wellstone unseats Sen. Rudy Boschwitz 50 to 48. Many political observers believe both Boschwitz and Perpich were damaged by the Grunseth scandals.

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