Several players in this year's cast played roles in the 2008 Senate recount drama.
Gone are the days of nasty political ads, stump speeches and campaign managers.
The Minnesota governor's race now features recounts, court hearings, canvassing boards and lots and lots of lawyers. A hand recount of the 2.1 million ballots cast in that race begins Monday.
Last week, the State Canvassing Board certified results that gave DFLer Mark Dayton an 8,770-vote lead over Republican Tom Emmer. That's within the half-percentage-point margin that makes a hand recount automatic under state law.
Election workers across the state will open the boxes holding ballots and sort them according to candidates as observers from both sides keep watch. Disputed ballots will be set aside for counting later. Local election officials must finish the recount by Dec. 7. The Canvassing Board convenes the next day and is expected to certify a winner by Dec. 14.
Here's a little about the main players as the state figures out who actually won:
Mark Dayton: A 63-year-old former U.S. Senator, Dayton has been a force in Minnesota politics for three decades. An heir to the Dayton department store fortune, he bested his party's choice in a primary and used his political history, and a plea for higher taxes on the "rich," to make it near the finish line. He leads his GOP opponent by 8,770 votes.
Tom Emmer: The 49-year-old legislator and trial lawyer from Delano burst on the political scene with the help of activists drawn to his charismatic crusade against taxes and for smaller government. He overcame early campaign stumbles to attract voters who sought to keep a Republican in charge of state government. Emmer has used a varying array of tactics to cut Dayton's lead, including a petition to the Minnesota Supreme Court, but none has worked so far.
Charles Nauen: In the 2008 U.S. Senate recount, Nauen wasn't the most visible of Al Franken's attorneys but he had a key role. Nauen represented Franken voters who had their absentee ballots rejected and worked to get them counted. His clients' votes were the first ordered counted by a judicial panel and helped the Democrat fill out his slender lead. He spent election night with Dayton in case elections issues came up.
David Lillehaug: White-haired and precise, with a dash of snarkiness, Lillehaug is a former U.S. attorney for Minnesota and former attorney for Franken during the 2008 recount and trial. He's seen election politics from both sides: He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2000 against Mark Dayton but dropped out when someone else received the DFL endorsement.
Also on Dayton's side: Marc Elias, of Washington, D.C., and Kevin Hamilton, of Washington state. Both work at the high-powered Perkins Coie law firm and were major players in Franken's legal effort two years ago.
Tony Trimble: Trimble has long been a Republican go-to attorney in Minnesota and was the first lawyer on the Emmer scene when it was clear the race was close. He also was an attorney for Republican Norm Coleman during the 2008 U.S. Senate recount. Trimble was at Republican state party chairman Tony Sutton's side the day after the election as the party geared up its recount rhetoric.
Michael Toner: Toner's experience on the national scene is heady: He's a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and has served as chief counsel to the Republican National Committee and general counsel to the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign. A Minnesota connection: Toner is the attorney for Gov. Tim Pawlenty's national fundraising committee. Except for an appearance at a closed-door gathering of GOP funders, Toner has kept a low profile in Minnesota.
Eric Magnuson: Magnuson went from a recount judge to recount attorney in just about a year. As the chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2008, he served on the state canvassing board that gave DFLer Al Franken his first lead. Magnuson, who was appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, stepped down from the court this summer and is now an attorney on Emmer's team, along with former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Sam Hanson.
Mark Ritchie: The DFL secretary of state was reelected this month and is Republicans' favorite foil for his role in the 2008 recount and his political connections. A fierce defender of local election officials, Ritchie served on the canvassing board with Magnuson in 2008.
Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson: One of two Andersons on the Minnesota Supreme Court, Paul Anderson was appointed to the bench by Republican Gov. Arne Carlson in 1994 and is considered more moderate than some of his Republican colleagues. He was part of the court that made key decisions and approved Franken's win in the 2008 recount. On the bench, Anderson can be a fierce questioner. Off the bench, he is approachable and often hosts foreign groups in town to study Minnesota's democracy.
Supreme Court Justice David Stras: At 36, Stras is by far the youngest Supreme Court Justice. Appointed by Pawlenty this spring, he is the bench's most junior member. He clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and is considered one of the state Supreme Court's most conservative members.
Ramsey County District Judge Gregg Johnson: Appointed by Carlson in 1992, Johnson has served on the bench longer than any of the other members of the board. A former public defender, he's also served as Ramsey County's chief judge. He is noted for a low-key, unflappable manner.
Hennepin County District Judge Denise Reilly: The seat on the canvassing board is a return appearance for Reilly in Minnesota recounts. In 2008, she was on the three-judge panel that decided Republican Coleman failed to prove he received the most legally cast votes in the U.S. Senate race. She said a few months ago that she may have "stammered" when asked to be on that panel. No word yet on whether she stammered when asked to serve on this year's board. She was appointed by Carlson in 1997.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • 651-292-0164