Mark Dayton, Governor, U.S. Senator

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Mark Brandt Dayton

Birthdate: (68)
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Hennepin, MN, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Bruce Bliss Dayton and Gwendolyn May Dayton
Ex-husband of Alida Messinger
Father of <private> Dayton and <private> Dayton

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Mark Dayton, Governor, U.S. Senator

Mark Brandt Dayton (born January 26, 1947) is an American politician, the 40th and current Governor of the state of Minnesota.[1] Dayton previously served as United States Senator from Minnesota from 2001 to 2007 in the 107th, 108th, and 109th Congresses. A member of the Minnesota DFL Party, Dayton was Minnesota State Auditor from 1991 to 1995.

Dayton was the DFL nominee in the November 2010 gubernatorial election. He defeated the Republican Party of Minnesota nominee Tom Emmer and Independence Party of Minnesota nominee Tom Horner in the general election, and took office on January 3, 2011.

Personal background

Dayton was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Gwendolen May (née Brandt) and Bruce Bliss Dayton. He is a great-grandson of businessman George Dayton. Dayton grew up in Long Lake, Minnesota. He attended Long Lake Elementary School (now closed) and The Blake School in Hopkins, from which he graduated in 1965.

In 1969, he graduated cum laude from Yale University, where he played goalie for the varsity hockey team. He also joined Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, whose membership at the time included George W. Bush. Dayton worked as a teacher for two years in New York City, and then as chief financial officer of a social service agency in Boston, Massachusetts. Dayton served as a legislative assistant to Senator Walter Mondale. He ran for the United States Senate in 1982, losing to Republican incumbent David Durenberger.

He was elected Minnesota State Auditor in 1990 and served from 1991 to 1995. Dayton sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 1998, but was defeated by Skip Humphrey. He was elected to the United States Senate in 2000, defeating Republican incumbent Rod Grams. Dayton's first wife, Alida Rockefeller Messinger, to whom he was married from 1978 to 1986, is the sister of U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller. Dayton and his second wife, Janice Haarstick, divorced in 1999.

Dayton has two sons from his first marriage. He is a recovering alcoholic and has been treated for mild depression. Dayton revealed this information on his own initiative, saying he felt "people have the right to know."

U.S. Senate

Dayton, an heir to the Dayton's Department Store fortune, financed his 2000 Senate campaign with $2.76 million of his own money.

While in the Senate, Dayton generally voted with his fellow Democrats. He opposed tax cuts and the invasion of Iraq, and supported increased Medicare prescription-drug coverage for seniors and use of ethanol and biodiesel fuels. He served on four Senate committees: Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; Armed Services; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and Rules and Administration. With Sen. Joe Lieberman and Rep. Barney Frank, Dayton introduced legislation to the Governmental Affairs Committee to extend to domestic partners of federal employees all “benefits available and obligations imposed upon a spouse of an employee.”

On February 9, 2005, he announced that he would not run for re-election, stating, "Everything I've worked for, and everything I believe in, depends upon this Senate seat remaining in the Democratic caucus in 2007. I do not believe that I am the best candidate to lead the DFL Party to victory next year." He also cited his dislike of fundraising for political campaigns. Dayton was succeeded in the Senate by Amy Klobuchar, another DFLer.

On September 22, 2005, the 44th anniversary of the day President John F. Kennedy signed the Peace Corps into law, Dayton became the first U.S. senator to introduce legislation creating a cabinet-level Department of Peace. At the same time, similar legislation was introduced in the House by Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

In April 2006, Dayton was rated one of America's "Five Worst Senators" by Time magazine, which also labeled him "The Blunderer" for such "erratic behavior" as his temporary closure of his office in 2004 because of an unspecified terrorist threat, his complaints about "limited power in a chamber where authority derives from seniority," and his comments in February 2005 that the Mayo Clinic in Rochester was "worth a hell of a lot more than the whole state of South Dakota", a remark for which he later apologized.

In September 2006, Dayton requested a review of the Rogers, Minnesota tornado to determine whether the National Weather Service had acted properly and the deaths were unavoidable.

News reports of a Dayton question-and-answer session quote the senator as giving himself a "F" grade for his time in the Senate. Largely based on his Washington behavior, the New Republic dubbed Dayton's subsequent run for state-level elected office, "Eeyore For Governor."

Political positions

As a member of the Democratic Party, Dayton's political positions have generally been in line with modern liberalism in the United States. He is pro-choice and opposes federal restrictions on funding for elective abortion, supports LGBT rights and same-sex marriage, favors federal social services such as Social Security and universal health care, and is critical of the Iraq War.

Dayton supports health-care coverage for all Americans, with increased state and federal spending on health care. He is in favor of a progressive tax to decrease state and federal deficits. To help create new jobs, he proposed a state stimulus package as part of his gubernatorial platform. He supports increased funding for K-12 schools, with increased teachers' salaries and decreased class size.

In July 2000, Dayton answered an election questionnaire saying he would expand Medicare prescription-drug coverage. He favors keeping Social Security intact, and opposes privatization of Social Security. He received a 90% rating by the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), indicating a pro-senior record.

Dayton voted against a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage in June 2006, and supported civil marriage equality in his gubernatorial platform.

Dayton has stated support for "green" energy and a state pollution reduction agency. He received a 79% rating from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), indicating pro-environment values.

In October 2002, Dayton voted no on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq. He followed up three years later by introducing Senate Bill 1756 to create a cabinet-level Department of Peace and Nonviolence a week after Dennis Kucinich introduced a similar bill in the House. The bill never emerged from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Dayton received 100% ratings from Americans for Democratic Action (a liberal group), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL)., and the AFL-CIO. He scored a 9% conservative rating from the conservative group SBE Council.

Dayton v. Hanson

In the 2003 lawsuit Office of Senator Mark Dayton v. Brad Hanson, at issue was the question of wrongful termination. The circumstances of the case were as follows: Brad Hanson worked as State Office Manager for Dayton. Hanson took medical leave for a heart problem and Senator Dayton fired him shortly thereafter. Hanson sued under the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, claiming that Dayton had discriminated against him because of a perceived disability. Dayton argued that he was immunized from the suit by the "Speech or Debate Clause" of the United States Constitution. (The clause protects lawmakers from having legislative work questioned by courts.) Dayton claimed that Hanson's duties were directly related to Dayton's legislative functions, and that the decision to fire him could thus not be challenged. The District Court denied the motion. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, where oral arguments were heard on April 24, 2007. At issue in the case was whether a U.S. Senator can be sued for wrongful termination or if such legal actions are barred by the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause, which protects lawmakers from having legislative work questioned by courts. The Supreme Court ruled 8 to 0 that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal and dismissed the case, declining to grant certiorari. Dayton reached a settlement with Hanson in 2009, shortly after Dayton became a candidate for governor.

2010 gubernatorial campaign

Main article: Minnesota gubernatorial election, 2010,_2010

On January 16, 2009, Dayton announced his candidacy for governor of Minnesota. He faced a field of DFL Party challengers in the August 2010 primary election. He chose to bypass the state caucuses and convention in favor of the primary election, closer to the general election, stating that the primary election is a more democratic method of choosing a candidate. He has been known to dislike fundraising for his campaigns, and mostly relied on personal funds for the governor's race. On May 24, 2010, he announced state senator Yvonne Prettner Solon of Duluth as his running mate for lieutenant governor.

In July 2010, while campaigning for governor, Senator Dayton was asked by a military veteran whether Dayton would support tax cuts for veterans. Dayton said that veterans wouldn't want to hear it, but no, the state couldn't afford it. Republicans criticized Dayton for not being more supportive of people who have fought for the United States. Dayton responded to their criticism with a statement that said, “with the state facing a $6 billion deficit, I could not support an additional tax cut (beyond the $750 tax credit veterans with 20 years military service or with a disability received in 2009).”

On August 10, 2010, Dayton defeated DFL-endorsed Margaret Anderson Kelliher in a narrowly won primary (41.33% for Dayton, 39.75% for Kelliher) and was later endorsed by the Minnesota DFL Central Committee to earn his party's nomination for governor.

In the general election on November 2, 2010, Dayton led his Republican opponent Tom Emmer at the close of balloting by just under 9,000 votes. The margin of victory was small enough to trigger an automatic recount under state law. Analysts generally thought it was unlikely that Dayton's lead would be overturned. During the hand recount of ballots, Emmer failed to find enough questionable ballots to overturn Dayton's lead. Emmer conceded the election on December 8, 2010. Independent candidate Tom Horner received 11.9% of the vote. It has been suggested that Horner cost the Republican party the Governor's office, splitting the Republican gubernatorial vote in a year they took control of the Legislature and allowing the Democrat Dayton to win.

Governor of Minnesota


Dayton took the oath of office to become governor of Minnesota on January 3, 2011. Former Vice President and Senator Walter Mondale served as Master of Ceremony at the inauguration. Dayton succeeded Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty. He is the first DFLer to serve as governor of Minnesota in 20 years; Rudy Perpich, who was the state's last DFL governor before Dayton, left office in January 1991. On January 5, 2011, Governor Dayton signed two Executive Orders allowing the Minnesota Departments of Commerce and Health to apply for federal health-care grants, and provide $1.2 billion dollars in federal funds toward an Early Option for a statewide Medicaid Opt-In program. These Executive Orders reversed the previous administration's ban on federal funding for the state's health-care system. In March 2011 Governor Dayton signed a law increasing penalties on those who injure or kill police dogs. On July 1, 2011, the Minnesota government went into a shutdown as a result of an impasse during budget negotiations between Dayton and the Republican leadership in the legislature. On July 21, 2011, Dayton and the legislature reached an agreement, ending the 20-day shutdown.

Electoral history

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Mark Dayton, Governor, U.S. Senator's Timeline

January 26, 1947
Minneapolis, Hennepin, MN, USA