Mark Brandt Dayton (born January 26, 1947) is an American politician, the 40th and current Governor of the state of Minnesota. Dayton previously served as United States Senator from Minnesota from 2001 to 2007 in the 107th, 108th, and 109th Congresses. A member of the Minnesota DFL Party, Dayton was Minnesota State Auditor from 1991 to 1995. Dayton was the DFL nominee in the November 2010 gubernatorial election. He defeated Tom Emmer (R) and Tom Horner (I) in the general election, and took office on January 3, 2011.
Dayton was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Gwendolen May Brandt and Bruce Bliss Dayton. He is a great-grandson of businessman George Dayton. In 1969, he graduated cum laude from Yale University, where he also played goalie for Yale's varsity hockey team. He also joined Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, whose membership at the time included George W. Bush. Dayton worked as a teacher for two years in New York City, and then as chief financial officer of a social service agency in Boston, Massachusetts. He ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate in 1982. Dayton served as a legislative assistant to Senator Walter Mondale. He was elected Minnesota State Auditor in 1990, and served from 1991 to 1995. He was elected to the United States Senate in 2000, defeating Republican incumbent Rod Grams. Dayton's first wife, Alida Rockefeller Messinger, to whom he was married from 1978 to 1986, is the sister of U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller. Dayton and his second wife, Janice Haarstick, divorced in 1999. Dayton has two sons from his first marriage. He is a recovering alcoholic and has been treated for mild depression. Dayton revealed this information on his own initiative, saying he felt "people have the right to know."
Dayton, an heir to the Dayton's Department Store fortune, financed his 2000 Senate campaign with $12 million of his own money.While in the Senate, Dayton generally voted with his fellow Democrats. DFLer. On September 22, 2005, the 44th anniversary of the day President John F. Kennedy signed the Peace Corps into law, Dayton became the first U.S. senator to introduce legislation creating a cabinet-level Department of Peace. At the same time, similar legislation was introduced in the House by Congressman Dennis Kucinich.In April 2006, Dayton was rated one of America's "Five Worst Senators" by Time magazine, which also labeled him "The Blunderer" for such "erratic behavior" as his temporary closure of his office in 2004 because of an unspecified terrorist threat, his complaints about "limited power in a chamber where authority derives from seniority", and his comments in February 2005 that the Mayo Clinic in Rochester was "worth a hell of a lot more than the whole state of South Dakota", a remark for which he later apologized. In September 2006, Dayton requested a review of the Rogers, Minnesota tornado to determine whether the National Weather Service had acted properly and the deaths were unavoidable.
He opposed tax cuts and the invasion of Iraq, and supported increased Medicare prescription-drug coverage for seniors and use of ethanol and biodiesel fuels. He served on four Senate committees: Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; Armed Services; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and Rules and Administration. With Sen. Joe Lieberman and Rep. Barney Frank, Dayton introduced legislation to the Governmental Affairs Committee to extend to domestic partners of federal employees all “benefits available and obligations imposed upon a spouse of an employee.”On February 9, 2005, he announced that he would not run for re-election, stating, "Everything I've worked for, and everything I believe in, depends upon this Senate seat remaining in the Democratic caucus in 2007. I do not believe that I am the best candidate to lead the DFL Party to victory next year." He also cited his dislike of fundraising for political campaigns. Dayton was succeeded in the Senate by Amy Klobuchar, another
Governor of Minnesota
On January 16, 2009, Dayton announced his candidacy for governor of Minnesota. He faced a field of DFL Party challengers in the August 2010 primary election. He chose to bypass the state caucuses and convention in favor of the primary election, closer to the general election, stating that the primary election is a more democratic method of choosing a candidate. He has been known to dislike fundraising for his campaigns, and mostly relied on personal funds for the governor's race. On May 24, 2010, he announced state senator Yvonne Prettner Solon of Duluth as his running mate for lieutenant governor.In July 2010, while campaigning for governor, Senator Dayton was asked by a military veteran whether Dayton would support tax cuts for veterans. Dayton said that veterans wouldn't want to hear it, but no, the state couldn't afford it. Republicans criticized Dayton for not being more supportive of people who have fought for the United States. Dayton responded to their criticism with a statement that said, “with the state facing a $6 billion deficit, I could not support an additional tax cut (beyond the $750 tax credit veterans with 20 years military service or with a disability received in 2009).” On August 10, 2010, Dayton defeated DFL-endorsed Margaret Anderson Kelliher in a narrowly won primary (41.33% for Dayton, 39.75% for Kelliher) and was later endorsed by the Minnesota DFL Central Committee to earn his party's nomination for governor. In the general election on November 2, 2010, Dayton led his Republican opponent Tom Emmer at the close of balloting by just under 9,000 votes. The margin of victory was small enough to trigger an automatic recount under state law. Analysts generally thought it was unlikely that Dayton's lead would be overturned. During the hand recount of ballots, Emmer failed to find enough questionable ballots to overturn Dayton's lead. Emmer conceded the election on December 8, 2010.
Dayton took the oath of office to become governor of Minnesota on January 3, 2011. Former Vice President and Senator Walter Mondale served as Master of Ceremony at the inauguration. Dayton succeeded Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty. Dayton is the first DFLer to serve as governor of Minnesota in 20 years; Rudy Perpich, the state's last DFL governor before Dayton, left office in January 1991. On January 5, 2011, Governor Dayton signed two Executive Orders allowing the Minnesota Departments of Commerce and Health to apply for federal health-care grants, and provide $1.2 billion dollars in federal funds toward an Early Option for a statewide Medicaid Opt-In program. These Executive Orders reversed the previous administration's ban on federal funding for the state's health-care system. In March 2011 Governor Dayton signed a law increasing penalties on those who injure or kill police dogs.
May 15th, 2011