“This is so far from independent or anything having to do with individual freedom and liberty,” Daudt said. “It sounds to me like an election-year gimmick. It’s laughable.”
Fresh delays over a relocation of Hwy. 53 in the Iron Range are the latest issue to twinge Dayton’s libertarian nerve.
State agencies were working through the issues when new concerns by the federal Environmental Protection Agency threaten to delay the project a year and add $1 million to the cost.
Too much government
“There’s just too much cumulative effect of government,” Dayton said. “There is just this layering of government on top of government until it piles up and becomes too heavy.”
He said the more he governs, the less patience he has for bureaucratic obstacles.
The lottery showdown highlights this tension for Dayton, despite overwhelming and bipartisan legislative support for the measure.
The easy move for Dayton, the one that would have appeased party leaders and some DFL contributors, would have been to let the measure become law, ending the sale of lottery tickets online, at gas pumps and ATMs.
After two weeks agonizing over the issue, the governor handed out his only veto of an otherwise harmonious legislative session. He told lawmakers that a strong majority of Minnesotans gave constitutional approval to the lottery and that he is obligated to honor voters’ wishes to see it succeed.
He said the measure seemed designed to aid powerful casinos and charitable gambling interests, not protect Minnesotans struggling with gambling addiction.
State Rep. Jim Davnie, who emerged as an ardent supporter of reining in the Minnesota Lottery, was not surprised by the veto after watching Dayton the past few years.
“He runs the lottery; he thinks they have all the statutory authority they need,” said Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis.
“A large number of us disagree. I don’t think it is the lottery’s job to go out and recruit the next generation of gamblers.”
Dayton said this is the latest example of legislators — even in his own party — reaching into state agencies and trying to make management choices that he says should fall under his control.
“The Legislature has gone overboard in micromanaging what should be the responsibility of the executive branch,” Dayton said. “The Legislature is trying to prescribe exactly how everything can be done, and doesn’t foresee all the possibilities of the real world.”
Legislators and political operatives from both parties say privately that they are impressed or surprised by Dayton’s political acumen and willingness to run up against even his own party’s leadership.
“He has an incredibly good gut sense of where Minnesota is at,” Davnie said.
Davnie was among several Democratic leaders who strongly opposed the public subsidy for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, which Dayton passionately supported.