Candidates for Governor:
Mark Dayton (D)
Mark Brandt Dayton (born January 26, 1947) is an American politician and the current and 40th Governor of Minnesota, serving since 2011. He was previously a United States Senator for Minnesota from 2001 to 2007, and the Minnesota State Auditor from 1991 to 1995. He is a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), which affiliates with the national Democratic Party.
A native of Minnesota, Dayton is the great-grandson of businessman George Dayton, the founder of Dayton's, a department store that later became the Target Corporation. He embarked on a career in teaching and social work in New York City and Boston after graduating from Yale University in 1969. During the 1970s, he served as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Walter Mondale and Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich. In 1978, Dayton was appointed the Minnesota Economic Development Commissioner and married Alida Rockefeller Messinger, a member of the Rockefeller family.
Dayton gained national attention in 1982 during his unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign against Republican Party incumbent David Durenberger. He defeated former U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy in the Democratic primary, and the general election became the one of the most expensive in state history. Dayton campaigned as a populist in opposition to Reaganomics and famously promised "to close tax loopholes for the rich and the corporations—and if you think that includes the Daytons, you're right." After his defeat, Dayton returned to the Perpich administration until his election as Minnesota State Auditor in 1990.
In 1998, Dayton ran an unsuccessful campaign for Governor, losing the Democratic nomination to Hubert Humphrey III. In 2000, he was elected to the U.S. Senate after defeating Republican incumbent Rod Grams. As Senator, Dayton voted against the authorization for war in Iraq, and became the first Senator to introduce legislation creating a cabinet-level United States Department of Peace. In 2006, he chose not to seek reelection, citing his disillusionment with Washington D.C. and fundraising.
In 2010, Dayton defeated Republican Tom Emmer to become Governor of Minnesota despite national success for the Republican Party, including in the Minnesota legislature. His major legislative initiatives as Governor include the legalization of same-sex marriage and the construction of Vikings Stadium for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL) in Minneapolis.
Al Franken (D)
Alan Stuart "Al" Franken (born May 21, 1951) is an American politician who is the junior United States Senator from Minnesota, where he has served since 2009. A member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, an affiliate of the Democratic Party, he narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman in 2008. Prior to serving in the Senate, he was a writer and performer for the television show Saturday Night Live (SNL) from its inception in 1975 to 1980 and from 1985 to 1995.
After leaving SNL, he wrote and acted in movies and television shows. He also hosted a nationally syndicated, political radio talk show, The Al Franken Show, and authored six books, four of which are political satires critical of right-wing politics.
Franken declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2007 and after a close race, he trailed Coleman by 215 votes. After a statewide manual recount, required because of the closeness of the election, Franken was declared the winner by a margin of 312 votes. After an election contest and subsequent lawsuit by Coleman, the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously upheld his victory on June 30, 2009 and Franken was sworn into the Senate on July 7, 2009.