[Note: I interviewed Governor Mark Dayton late yesterday afternoon at the Governor's Residence in St. Paul. I published a series of posts today about my interview with Governor Dayton. Click here for my first post and here for my second post.]
During my interview with Governor Mark Dayton at the Governor's Residence, I was reminded of my first post for the Star Tribune which was with Dayton's opponent for governor in 2010, Tom Emmer.
In 2010, I served as the Deputy Chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota and one of my responsibilities was to help Emmer in his election against Dayton. Dayton defeated Emmer in 2010 by less than 10,000, but in 2014, Dayton became the first candidate for governor to win with over 50 percent of the vote in 20 years.
As I continued my interview with Dayton, I thought about all of the press conferences during the 2010 race for governor where I publicly questioned Dayton's judgment and ability to serve as governor.
In retrospect, I wasn't in any position to question Dayton's ability to serve.
By every reasonable political measurement, Dayton has been successful during his time as governor. This concept was unimaginable to a cocky Republican party operative, who believed Dayton's policies would be disastrous to Minnesota.
But as I prepared for my interview with Dayton, I reviewed both the old press releases and videos from the 2010 campaign and compared them with Dayton's media clippings during his time as governor.
In a question about his time as governor, I reviewed Dayton's electoral victories over the past three decades and I commented that he seemed "hardwired" to be successful as governor. Dayton politely said he did not agree with my description, but shared a personal story which explained his approach to serving as governor.
Dayton told a story about advice he received from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy in the late 1980's during a visit by Dayton to Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. A few years earlier, Dayton had lost his first campaign for the U.S. Senate when he was defeated by U.S. Senator David Durenberger in 1982.
Kennedy told Dayton, "you've got to persevere," adding, "there is no guarantee of success, but a prerequisite for success is to just persevere."
"I'm a work horse kind of politician, I'm not a show horse," said Dayton who added, "I've worked hard and persevered to get where I am." Dayton quickly added, "but it's not enough to get there, it's what you can accomplish."
As he talked about his final years in office as governor, Dayton showed the strength and enthusiasm of a politician who is just starting their first days in public office, saying he plans on "leaving nothing on the table."
At that moment, I realized that six years after the 2010 elections, Minnesota is doing well with Tom Emmer serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District and with Mark Dayton serving as Governor of Minnesota.
Picture source: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune