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Mark Dayton

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Mark Dayton
Mark Dayton 2013.jpg
Governor of Minnesota
In office
January 3, 2011 - Present
Term ends
January 2019
Years in position 4
PredecessorTim Pawlenty (R)
Base salary$119,850
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 2, 2010
Campaign $$7,977,903
Term limitsNone
Prior offices
United States Senator
January 3, 2001-January 3, 2007
Minnesota Auditor
Bachelor'sYale University (1969)
Date of birthJanuary 26, 1947
Place of birthMinneapolis, Minnesota
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Mark Dayton (b. January 26, 1947, Minneapolis, MN) is the Democratic Governor of Minnesota.[1] He was first elected governor in 2010 and sworn in as Minnesota's 40th governor on January 3, 2011. His term will expire in January of 2015.

One of the chief issues from Dayton's first term has been taxes. He argued for tax increases during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign and continued advocating for them during legislative debates over the state budget. In the summer of 2011, Dayton's demand for tax increases on the state's highest earners clashed with Republicans' refusal to consider any hikes, resulting in the memorable shutdown of the Minnesota government. On May 23, 2013, Dayton signed a tax bill raising the tax rate for upper-income residents.[2]

Before becoming governor, Dayton served in the United States Senate for a single term between, during which he was cited for erratic behavior and lack of legislative productivity by his then-colleagues. Dayton declined to run for re-election and his old seat was taken over by fellow Democrat Amy Klobuchar in January 2007.[3]

Early in his career, Dayton was a social worker in Boston, Massachusetts. He made his first bid for U.S. Senate in 1982. Though lost the 1982 election, he remained in public life working as Walter Mondale's legislative assistant and in 1990 he was elected Minnesota State Auditor.

Dayton is a member of the executive committee of the National Governors Association. He, along with eight other governors, will determine the association's priorities and actions for the year. He was named to this leadership role in August, 2013.[4]

Dayton ran for a second term as governor in 2014.[5] Mark Dayton won the general election on November 4, 2014.


A Minnesota native, Mark Dayton was born to Gwendolen May Brandt and Bruce Bliss Dayton. On his father's side, he is descended from George Dayton, founder of Dayton's Department Stores. The fortune he inherited has helped Dayton in his political ambitions; he spent $12 million of his personal wealth on his 2000 Senate campaign and just under $4 million on his gubernatorial campaign.

Growing up in Long Lake, Dayton studied at the Blake School in Hopkins. He went to college at Yale, where he played Division I Hockey. While at Yale, he joined Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, where future president George W. Bush was a brother. After graduating, he spent two years teaching in New York City's public high schools. In 1971, he moved to Boston and spent time in social work.[6]


  • Bachelor's of Arts - Yale University cum laude (1969)

Political career

Governor of Minnesota (2011-present)

Job creation ranking

In a June 2013 analysis by The Business Journals, which ranked 45 of the country's 50 governors by their job creation records, Dayton was ranked number 15. The five governors omitted from the analysis all assumed office in 2013. The ranking was based on a comparison of the annual private sector growth rate in all 50 states using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.[7][8]

Tax increase

Dayton signed a bill increasing taxes by $2.1 billion on May 23, 2013. This legislation included a $1.60 per pack increase on cigarette taxes and a higher tax rate for upper-income residents.[9] Individuals earning at least $150,000 per year and couples earning $250,000 per year will pay a 9.85 percent rate on earned income.[10] Dayton supported tax increases to fill a $627 million deficit, boost funding for early education programs and pay for a portion of a new football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. The governor argued for tax increases during his gubernatorial campaign in 2010 and continued advocating for increases during legislative debates over the state budget. "My feeling is, everybody ought to pay their fair share of taxes. If you make more, you pay more; if you make less, you pay less," stated Dayton during a March 2013 speech in Duluth.[11]

Same-sex marriage

On February 17, 2013, Senator Scott Dibble announced on a talk show that he would introduce a bill in the Minnesota State Senate to legalize same-sex marriage. Representative Karen Clark introduce the bill in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Early on Dayton stated his support for same-sex marriage. Dayton and other same-sex marriage supporters defeated the proposed Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment in the November 6, 2012 election.[12]

At 12:01 a.m. on August 1, 2013, Minnesota officially became the 12th state to recognize same-sex marriage. In recognition, Gov. Dayton issued a proclamation declaring August 1 "Freedom to Marry Day" in the state.[13]

Government shutdown

Dayton played a leading role in the summer 2011 shutdown of the Minnesota government after he and the Republican-controlled legislature failed to agree on a plan to close the $5 billion deficit in the state's biennial budget. Dayton had demanded tax increases on the state's highest earners, while Republicans refused to consider any hikes and insisted on spending cuts. The state government's non-essential services subsequently shut down on July 1, furloughing 23,000 state employees.[14]

Dayton defended his hardline stance against spending cuts, saying "most of the money the state collects doesn’t go to a bureaucracy. It goes to the people of Minnesota, who need services — education, health care and the like."[15] He has suggested that an all-cuts solution to the state's budget problem would fall excessively hard on the state's most vulnerable citizens.

United States Senate (2001-2007)

Dayton served in the United States Senate from 2001-2007.[1]

Minnesota Auditor (1991-1995)

Dayton was the Minnesota Auditor from 1991-1995.[1]

On The Issues Vote Match

Mark Dayton's Vote Match results from On The Issues.
See also: On The Issues Vote Match

On The Issues conducts a VoteMatch analysis of elected officials based on 20 issue areas. Rather than relying on incumbents to complete the quiz themselves, the VoteMatch analysis is conducted using voting records, statements to the media, debate transcripts or citations from books authored by or about the candidate. Based on the results of the quiz, Dayton is a Liberal Populist. Dayton received a score of 44 percent on social issues and 19 percent on economic issues.[16]

On The Issues organization logo.

The table below contains the results of analysis compiled by staff at On The Issues.

On The Issues Vote Quiz[17]
Economic Issues Social Issues
Issue Stance Issue Stance
Legally require hiring women & minorities Strongly Favors Abortion is a woman's unrestricted right Opposes
Expand ObamaCare Favors Comfortable with same-sex marriage Favors
Vouchers for school choice Strongly Opposes Keep God in the public sphere Opposes
Absolute right to gun ownership Opposes Human needs over animal rights Strongly Opposes
Higher taxes on the wealthy Opposes Stricter punishment reduces crime Opposes
Support & expand free trade Strongly Opposes Pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens Strongly Opposes
Stricter limits on political campaign funds Opposes Maintain US sovereignty from UN Strongly Opposes
Prioritize green energy Neutral Expand the military Opposes
Stimulus better than market-led recovery Favors Stay out of Iran Opposes
Privatize Social Security Strongly Opposes Never legalize marijuana Strongly Favors
Note: Information last updated: April 19, 2015.[16] If you notice the rating has changed, email us.



See also: Minnesota gubernatorial election, 2014

Dayton ran on the Democratic Party ticket for re-election as Governor of Minnesota in 2014. Dayton secured the party's nomination in the August primary.

The gubernatorial race featured five tickets seeking election to a four-year term. Dayton ran with Tina Smith, who ran to replace Yvonne Prettner Solon as lieutenant governor. Dayton and Smith faced Republican challengers Jeff Johnson and Bill Kuisle. The general election ballot included Libertarian ticket Chris Holbrook and Chris Dock, Grassroots Party ticket Chris Wright and David Daniels and Independence Party ticket Hannah Nicollet and Tim Gieseke. The general election took place November 4, 2014.


Primary election
Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, Democratic Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngMark Dayton/Tina Smith 93% 177,849
Leslie Davis/Gregory K. Soderberg 4.5% 8,530
Bill Dahn/James Vigliotti 2.6% 4,880
Total Votes 191,259
Election Results via Minnesota Secretary of State.
General election
Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMark Dayton/Tina Smith Incumbent 50.1% 989,113
     Republican Jeff Johnson/Bill Kuisle 44.5% 879,257
     Independence Hannah Nicollet/Tim Gieseke 2.9% 56,900
     Grassroots Party Chris Wright/David Daniels 1.6% 31,259
     Libertarian Chris Holbrook/Chris Dock 0.9% 18,082
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.1% 1,134
Total Votes 1,975,745
Election Results via Minnesota Secretary of State.

Campaign media

Mark Dayton ad: Darn Good Coach


General election

Minnesota Governor's Race 2014 - All candidates
Poll Mark Dayton * (D) Jeff Johnson (R)Hannah Nicollet (I)Chris Holbrook (L)Chris Wright (Grassroots)Undecided/OtherMargin of ErrorSample Size
(September 30-October 2, 2014)
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.
Minnesota Governor's Race 2014 - Dayton vs. Johnson
Poll Mark Dayton * (D) Jeff Johnson (R)Undecided/OtherMargin of ErrorSample Size
Rasmussen Reports
(August 13-14, 2014)
Star Tribune
(September 8-10, 2014)
Rasmussen Reports
(September 29-30, 2014)
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov
(October 16-23, 2014)
AVERAGES 48.5% 38.75% 13% +/-3.63 1,182.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Hypothetical match-ups

Hypothetical match-ups for Governor of Minnesota
Julie RosenScott HonourKurt ZellersMarty SeifertDave ThompsonJeff Johnson
Percent of the vote36%38%38%37%37%37%
Mark Dayton's percent of the vote48%48%48%48%48%48%
Between October 27-29, 2013, Public Policy Polling surveyed 895 Minnesota voters. The respondents were given a series of hypothetical match-ups between Democratic incumbent Mark Dayton and six potential Republican candidates, and asked for which of the two candidates they would vote in the 2014 gubernatorial election. The margin of error for this survey is +/-3.3%[18]

Note: An asterisk (*) denotes incumbent status.


See also: Minnesota gubernatorial election, 2010 and Gubernatorial elections, 2010

Dayton narrowly defeated Margaret Anderson Kelliher in the August 10 primary by a margin of 41.0% to 40.1%.

On November 2, 2010, Mark Dayton/Yvonne Prettner Solon won election to the office of Governor/Lt. Governor of Minnesota. They defeated Tom Emmer/Annette Meeks (R), Tom Horner/James A. Mulder (I), Chris Wright/Edwin H. Engelmann (Grassroots), Farheen Hakeem/Dan Dittmann (Green), Ken Pentel/Erin Wallace (Ecology Democracy) and Linda S. Eno/Howard B. Hanson (Resource) in the general election.

Governor/Lt. Governor of Minnesota, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMark Dayton/Yvonne Prettner Solon 43.6% 919,232
     Republican Tom Emmer/Annette Meeks 43.2% 910,462
     Independence Tom Horner/James A. Mulder 11.9% 251,487
     Grassroots Party Chris Wright/Edwin H. Engelmann 0.4% 7,516
     Green Farheen Hakeem/Dan Dittmann 0.3% 6,188
     Ecology Democracy Party Ken Pentel/Erin Wallace 0.3% 6,180
     The Resource Party Linda S. Eno/Howard B. Hanson 0.2% 4,092
     Write-In Various 0.1% 1,864
Total Votes 2,107,021
Election Results Via: Minnesota Secretary of State

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Dayton is available dating back to 1998. Based on available campaign finance records, Dayton raised a total of $7,977,903 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 12, 2013.[19]

Mark Dayton's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Governor of Minnesota* Not up for election $440,328
2010 Governor of Minnesota* Won $5,377,917
1998 Governor of Minnesota** Defeated $2,159,658
Grand Total Raised $7,977,903
*These funds represent a joint-ticket race with Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon. **These funds represent a joint-ticket race with Julie Jansen.


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Mark Dayton's donors each year.[20] Click [show] for more information.


Dayton and his former wife, Alida Rockefeller Messinger, have two grown sons, Andrew and Eric.

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Mark + Dayton + Minnesota + Governor"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Mark Dayton News Feed

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See also

External links

Suggest a link

U.S. Senate


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Project Vote Smart biographical profile of Mark Dayton
  2. MinnPost, "Gov. Mark Dayton vetoes all GOP budget bills, foresees likely state government shutdown," May 24, 2011
  3. Time, "Mark Dayton: The Blunderer," April 14, 2006
  4. National Governors Association, "NGA Announces New Executive Committee Leadership," August 4, 2013
  5. The Associated Press, "Amid turbulent session, Gov. Mark Dayton looks to re-election," March 31, 2013
  6. Office of the Minnesota Governor, " Governor Dayton," accessed August 7, 2013
  7. The Business Journals, "Governors and jobs: How governors rank for job creation in their states," June 27, 2013
  8. The Business Journals, "How state governors rank on their job-growth record," June 27, 2013
  9. Minneapolis StarTribune, "Dayton signs $2.1 billion tax bill into law," May 23, 2013
  10. Wall Street Journal, "States' Rift on Taxes Widens," May 23, 2013
  11. MPR News, "Dayton keeps up 'fair share' tax talk in Duluth," March 22, 2013
  12. CBS Minnesota, "Sen. Dibble Plans To Introduce Gay Marriage Bill This Week," February 18, 2013
  13. Lake Minnetonka Patch, "Governor Dayton Declares Aug. 1 'Freedom to Marry Day' in Minnesota," August 1, 2013
  14. CNBC, "States Beat Budget Deadlines, While Minnesota Shuts Down," July 1, 2011 (dead link)
  15. Washington Post, "Quotes from Minn. Gov. Mark Dayton on his state’s shutdown and his standoff with Republicans," July 2, 2011
  16. 16.0 16.1 On The Issues, "Mark Dayton Vote Match," accessed April 19, 2015
  17. The questions in the quiz are broken down into two sections -- social and economic. In social questions, liberals and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while conservatives and populists agree in choosing the more restrictive answers. For the economic questions, conservatives and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while liberals and populists agree in choosing the more restrictive answers.
  18. Public Policy Polling, "Franken and Dayton ahead of opponents heading into 2014 re-elections," October 31, 2013
  19. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Mark Dayton and Yvonne Prettner Solon," accessed July 12, 2013
  20. Follow the Money.org, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
Political offices
Preceded by
Tim Pawlenty (R)
Governor of Minnesota
2011 - present
Succeeded by