Minnesota's candidates for governor are keeping busy Friday as they prepare for another debate this weekend, the first in the Twin Cities.
Gov. Mark Dayton is speaking Friday morning at a leadership summit of the Minnesota State College Student Association in Bloomington.
Dayton also has an active official schedule Friday, with a handful of events closed to the press: a conference call with executives at BNSF Railway and Minnesota Power; a special Cabinet meeting for an update on Minnesota's Ebola preparedness and prevention efforts; and an evening banquet of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association.
Republican Jeff Johnson does not have public events on his calendar Friday. His campaign said he would be fundraising and doing media interviews, and on Saturday had plans for retail campaigning in a number of locations.
Hannah Nicollet from the Independence Party has several campaign events Friday and Saturday as well. She's appearing Friday night on Duluth Almanac Extra, and at a Saturday conference in favor of marijuana legalization.
Dayton and Johnson are set to debate Sunday morning. It will be aired live on Fox 9 in the Twin Cities.
Both Gov. Mark Dayton and his Republican challenger, Jeff Johnson, are courting traditional constituencies on Thursday.
Johnson is appearing at a morning news conference organized by the Minnesota chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. The group represents over 13,000 small business owners statewide, and has been a traditional ally of Republicans at the Capitol.
Johnson's campaign said he also plans to offer comments on news of premium hikes on PreferredOne insurance plans that were sold on MNsure last year.
Meanwhile, Dayton is headed later in the morning to speak at the Education Minnesota Professional Conference at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in downtown St. Paul. The state's largest teacher's union, Education Minnesota has tended to support mostly Democrats politically, and has already endorsed Dayton's re-election.
Dayton is also making remarks at the groundbreaking of a Highway 610 expansion project in Maple Grove. Also Thursday, Dayton is speaking at a DFL get-out-the-vote training event in Little Canada.
The day after the debate in Duluth between Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican Jeff Johnson, it's a quiet day on the campaign trail in the race.
Dayton, whose campaign debuted its third TV ad on Tuesday, has no public campaign stops on his schedule Wednesday. But he's got a couple of northern Minnesota appearances on his official schedule: at the University of Minnesota Crookston, at the grand opening of a sewer treatment facility in Chisholm, and at the dedication of a public library in Ely.
Dayton is also meeting privately in the afternoon with leaders of Essar Steel in Hibbing.
Johnson does not have plans to appear publicly on Wednesday. His campaign said he would be fundraising and doing media interviews.
DULUTH -- The Minnesota Vikings stadium, MNsure and mining were among the topics at Tuesday morning's debate between Gov. Dayton and Jeff Johnson, the Republican who wants his job.
The third debate of this race, at the Duluth Playhouse, was also the first to feature only Dayton and Johnson. The debate's organizers at the Duluth Chamber of Commerce did not invite Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet to participate, making it the first gubernatorial debate in years not to feature a major third-party candidate.
It allowed Dayton and Johnson to turn more sharply toward each other. The debate never got ugly, but both candidates got in a few solid hits on his opponent.
"I don't recall ever calling you a 'wacko,'" Dayton said to Johnson, after the Republican said Dayton had called him both a wacko and a huckster. Dayton didn't take issue with the second part.
"I do think hucksters are people who promise things unrealistically for selfish advantage," Dayton said.
This exchange came during a discussion of the proposed PolyMet copper and nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes on the Iron Range. Johnson charged that Dayton's administration purposely prolonged the environmental review process in order to kill the project.
"This governor is beholden to what I would call some pretty extreme environmental groups who don’t want to see any mining in this state," Johnson said. He argued that the only way to ensure the project goes ahead is to elect him.
The PolyMet proposal has generated plenty of controversy in northeastern Minnesota, sparking conflicts over the job opportunities versus the potential that contaminated runoff from the facility could make its way into Lake Superior.
Backers have been seeking state approval for nearly a decade. That stretches back further than Dayton's, and he said it's taken too long. But he said to short-circuit the environmental review now, in its final stages, would be irresponsible.
"We need to be able to tell Minnesotans what they can reasonably expect with this undertaking," Dayton said.
There are two more scheduled debates in this race: Oct. 19 and Oct. 31, both in St. Paul.
Hannah Nicollet, a former software developer and Roseville mom who's running for governor as candidate for the Independence Party, complained Monday about being left out of a debate on Tuesday in Duluth.
Gov. Mark Dayton and his Republican challenger, Jeff Johnson, are participating in the debate at the Duluth Playhouse. Nicollet participated in the first two debates of the race, two weeks ago in Rochester and last week in Moorhead.
"The Independence Party is still a major party in Minnesota," Nicollet said, pointing out that 2010 IP candidate Tom Horner participated in all debates. Even by previous IP standards, Nicollet has run a low-profile race this time, raising little in campaign funds and rarely breaking single digit-support in polls.
The chief sponsor of the Duluth debate is the Duluth Chamber of Commerce, and its president and CEO, David Ross, said the group negotiated the details of the debate with the Dayton and Johnson campaigns in August.
"Very recently, candidate Nicollet's campaign expressed an interest in participating, and we considered that request," Ross said. "But we decided we needed to honor the original arrangement and proceed as planned, and not change it in the 11th hour."
Dayton said at the Rochester debate that he believed Nicollet should participate in all subsequent debates. Johnson said last week the decisions were up to debate organizers.
There are two more debates after Tuesday: on Oct. 19 and Oct. 31, both in St. Paul. Nicollet said Monday she had not heard from organizers of either debate.
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