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As Republicans pick Dayton challenger, governor says he's ready for race to start

Posted by: Patrick Condon under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota governor, Gov. Mark Dayton, Democrats, Republicans Updated: August 12, 2014 - 1:20 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday he's ready for the fall campaign to get started, as Republicans picked a candidate who will try to unseat the DFL incumbent.

"Minnesota's in a lot better shape now than it was four years ago, and I'd like to see us continue that progress," Dayton said, after voting in the DFL primary at Summit Church in St. Paul, down the street from the Governor's Residence.  

Dayton won a hard-fought DFL primary four years ago, and this year faces only token opposition in his party's gubernatorial primary. Turnout was low at the St. Paul precinct: election judge Sam Carlisle said the site was open 30 minutes before the first voter appeared. Dayton, who arrived at 12:30 p.m., was only the 89th person to show up to vote.

He joked with election workers, telling them he got over the shame of voting for himself when he was in fourth grade. 

Republicans are choosing from four main contenders in the race to challenge Dayton. They are businessman Scott Honour, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, state Rep. Kurt Zellers and former state Rep. Marty Seifert. 

The GOP gubernatorial primary remained close up to the end, and expectations of low turnout made the outcome unpredictable. Polls close at 8 p.m.

Dayton declined to express a preference among the four candidates, but he rejected a central argument of all of them: that DFL control of the governor's office and Legislature have made taxes higher for Minnesotans. 

"If you’re making less than $250,000 a year, your taxes have probably gone down," Dayton said. "So I think it’s very misleading to say I’ve raised taxes when I’ve lowered them for most people."

Dayton and the GOP nominee are expected to meet at six debates between Labor Day and Election Day. 

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