His Republican opponent now set, Gov. Mark Dayton has a busy schedule of appearances around Minnesota this week as he celebrates local building projects made possible with state dollars.
Dayton spoke Wednesday at a ceremony marking the start of a $32 million expansion project at the Mankato Civic Center. The state is covering $14.5 million of the project's cost in the bonding bill Dayton signed earlier this year, with local taxpayers paying the rest.
Mankato-area politicians sought state money for the expansion over the last six years, and several Republican lawmakers joined Dayton at the event including Rep. Tony Cornish and Sen. Julie Rosen.
Dayton said the project "will add hundreds of new jobs, and bring thousands more visitors to Mankato every year." Jeff Johnson, Dayton's newly chosen Republican opponent, has said he believes bonding bills should focus spending on projects with statewide economic benefits.
Jobs and the economy will be a central theme in the election debate between Dayton and his newly chosen Republican opponent, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson. Republicans have acknowledged the recent healthy performance of Minnesota's economy, but Johnson said in his Tuesday night victory speech that he would try to convince voters that less government spending and regulation would benefit private employers.
Dayton also planned a Wednesday stop at MTU Onsite Energy in Mankato. On Thursday, he's scheduled to attend another groundbreaking, this one in Marshall. The southwestern Minnesota city got $4.3 million in the bonding bill to build a regional sports center, and will provide a 50 percent local match.
These appearances are under the auspices of Dayton's day job. But he's also making time for politics. The governor planned to attend a Tuesday afternoon meet-and-greet event with state House candidate Jack Considine, the DFL-endorsed candidate in the Mankato-area seat being vacated by Rep. Kathy Brynaert.
Dayton's campaign aides have said political stops will remain light on Dayton's schedule until after Sept. 1.
"I'm focused right now on being governor of Minnesota," Dayton said Wednesday at the Mankato groundbreaking. "I have five months left in my term, so that's my focus for now."