The band practiced and the color guard rehearsed its steps downstairs at St. Paul’s Landmark Centre, while three fours above, re-elected State Auditor Rebecca Otto snuck up for a “photobomb” as her colleague, Secretary of State-elect Steve Simon posed for a photo
Upstairs and down, the mood was jubilant before the inauguration ceremony for Gov. Mark Dayton, his Lieutenant Gov. Tina Smith and the state’s constitutional officers, Simon, Otto and re-elected Attorney General Lori Swanson. The DFL-dominated event—each of the party’s statewide candidates handily won their respective races-- neared its begin with the arrival of several DFL House and Senate members, as well as former Vice President Walter Mondale and St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman. No Republicans were in sight, including Minnesota House speaker-designate Kurt Daudt. Daudt’s spokeswoman Susan Closmore said that although he was invited to the inauguration, he was committed to a fundraiser but planned to congratulate the governor at the reception afterward.
Swanson and Otto, both, who were re-elected, gave brief remarks after they were swiftly sworn in. Simon, a former House member taking his first oath as a constitutional officer, paused, emotion creeping into his voice as he spoke of the Minnesota congressional delegation’s bipartisan support for the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
“That is the Minnesota Way,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we always agree with one another. It doesn’t mean we set aside politics. It means we always remember that politics is the means to an end’ not an end in itself—especially when it comes to the fundamental right to vote.”
The event paused for a musical break by the Greater Mount Vernon Baptist Church Choir while its marquee participants, Smith and Dayton, await taking their oaths.