Gov. Mark Dayton has a reputation for speaking his mind, at times to his own political detriment. He spoke freely again at a State Fair visit Thursday.
Dayton was especially pointed during an MPR interview before a live audience on the subject of ongoing litigation with North Dakota, which sued Minnesota over the 2007 Next Generation Energy Act. The law created a broad ban against Minnesota utilities signing deals to import coal-generated electricity. North Dakota sued and won on the grounds that the law constitutes a trade barrier between the two states that is forbidden by the U.S. Constitution. The case has been appealed.
Dayton said North Dakota's policies on climate change are "Neanderthal," referring to homo neanderthalensis, our closest extinct human relative, known for a shorter, stockier build and large noses.
He said North Dakota has "its head in the sand," and that Minnesota would continue to litigate to protect air quality.
A message was left at the office of North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple but has not yet been returned.
Dayton said his at-times feuding relationship with Senate Majority Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, has been fixed. He did allow, however, that politics "is a sandbox where you don't get to choose your playmates." He made repeated jabs at the Legislature during the 45-minute interview.
Asked about the Black Lives Matter protest of the fair, Dayton said he believes they may have a legitimate issue about whether the fair supports enough people of color as vendors, but he said protest organizers should have raised the issue months ago instead of just recently. He questioned any decision to create a traffic jam with a protest. "I just think the way they're proposing to deal with it is irresponsible," he said.
Dayton was asked about Donald Trump, whom he called a "huckster." "I'm glad he's in the other party," he said of the Republican frontrunner and former reality show star. "They're welcome to him."
Dayton likes to use self-deprecating humor and Thursday was no different.
"What a great turnout. Almost as many people here as at the french fry booth," he said.