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Republicans lawyer up for gubernatorial recount

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Republican Party is bringing in a Washington,

D.C. recount expert to organize its effort to overturn a 9,000-vote

governor's race deficit.

"The race for governor is not over," GOP Chairman Tony Sutton said this

morning, outlining his plan to challenge Democrat Mark Dayton's thin

lead over Republican Tom Emmer.

The race was too close to call this morning, with 100 out of more than

4,000 precincts left to report. If the margin does not change

dramatically, an automatic recount will be needed.

Dayton had 912,442 votes, for 43.66 percent. Emmer's total was 902,609

for 43.19 percent.

"We are concerned there are so many discrepancies," Sutton said.

During voting on Tuesday, Sutton complained that vote scanning machines

were breaking down all over the state. Then on Tuesday night Hennepin

County made a 400,000-vote reporting mistake, which added 60,000 votes

to Emmer's total and tightened the race considerably.

Sutton said that after the 2008 U.S. Senate recount that Secretary of

State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat, should have fixed problems with the


Ritchie said Tuesday's election came off with few problems.

If there is a recount, he added, the state constitution requires Gov.

Tim Pawlenty to remain in office until a new governor is certified.

Ritchie said vote totals will change in the next couple of weeks as

local elections officials and county canvassing boards examine their

numbers. Once they send in their final figures, the state canvassing

board will consider them on Nov. 23, and determine if a recount is


A recount could go on for weeks, and if there is a court challenge, it

easily could go into January or later. The 2008 U.S. Senate court case

was decided June 30, 2009.

An automatic recount is called if the vote margin is less than 0.5

percent. Although the trailing candidate can decline a recount, Sutton

gave no indication that Emmer would do that.

Sutton left the door open to asking for a recount even if the margin is

larger than needed for the automatic recount. And his hiring of

Washington lawyer indicates that a court challenge is possible.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., the parent company of the Woodbury Bulletin.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.