ROCHESTER – Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican challenger Jeff Johnson finally met face-to-face Wednesday night, clashing over the governor’s leadership in the past four years and Minnesota’s priorities in the next four. Dayton, Johnson and the Independence Party’s Hannah Nicollet kept the tone largely cordial in the 60-minute debate at Mayo Civic Center, the first of this year’s campaign. Johnson struck the most aggressive tone, with a litany of criticism aimed at Dayton’s record, though he kept fuzzy on details of how he’d rein in state spending if elected. Seeking a second term, DFLer Dayton mostly avoided direct engagement with Johnson’s jabs. Instead he touted highlights from his time in office.
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