Former state Sen. Bob Lessard, a political maverick who in past elections has favored Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other Republicans, and who was chosen to introduce President George W. Bush at an election rally in Duluth some years ago, this year is favoring a DFLer for governor, Mark Dayton.

The Dayton campaign announced the endorsement Wednesday morning.

Lessard cited  Dayton's "unwavering commitment to hunting, angling, and conservation,'' in endorsing Dayton.

The endorsement follows by about a week  Dayton's release of what he calls his "Commitment to Sportsmen and Sportswomen,'' a seven-point plan that spells out his pledge to hunters, anglers and other outdoors enthusiasts.

“Mark Dayton has made the strongest commitment to hunters and anglers that I have seen from any gubernatorial candidate in my political career,'' Lessard said. "Endorsing Mark is a matter of integrity.  In the past, I’ve endorsed some Republicans because they were on the right side of the issues that matter to me and the issues that matter to sportsmen and sportswomen.  In this race, Mark Dayton is on the right side of those issues—he supported the Legacy Amendment from Day One.  I support Mark because he supports sportsmen and sportswomen.  With him, hunters, anglers, and conservationists will have a friend in the governor’s office.”

A week ago, Independence Party candidate Tom Horner held a press conference that touted his commitment to conservation and the environment. Endorsing him at the gathering was retired Star Tribune outdoors columnist and "Minnesota Bound'' TV host Ron Schara. And Republican candidate Tom Emmer has gone hunting this fall in an attempt to show his commitment to the outdoors and win the vote of hunters and anglers.

The Lessard-Sams Council, which governs Legacy Amendment funds dedicated to game, fish and wildlife, is named after Senator Lessard, who was the original author of that legislation, and named also after the late Sen. Dallas Sams.

Dayton has pledged  to veto any attempts to supplant Legacy Amendment funds from their Constitutionally-dedicated purpose, the creation of a Governor’s Pheasant Opener tradition, increased access to public lands, better fisheries and wildlife protection, and a reformed DNR that will be more responsive to citizens.


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