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Dayton's turn to get it wrong

August 17, 2010 - Lee Smith

Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer had his strange moment this summer when he suggested that one way to help small business in the state is to let restaurants pay servers a reduced minimum wage because they also make tips. He was working from the fact that many other states already do this, but his political timing and common sense were pretty bad. Servers here are accustomed to what they earn, so any change hurts them. Plus workers are struggling through a recession. And Emmer could have found a better way to help businesses — tax cuts, fewer regulations — than by targeting the minimum wage.

Anyway, we hope Emmer learned his lesson.

This week, it was Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton's turn to go off the deep end. (Not necessarily new for Dayton. He once shut down his U.S. Senate office because of perceived — by him alone — terrorist threats.) Dayton is in a panic because there are Republican campaign operatives following him around as he campaigns. These folks are known as "trackers" and are employed by both major political parties. Their job is to catch an opponent saying something weird or offensive and then use the material for political gain.

Dayton says the trackers are "harassing" him, trying to provoke him and intimidate citizens. Dayton wants both parties to call off trackers. In the alternative, he suggests — seriously — that they be required to wear clothing or badges to identify themselves so voters know if an exchange with the candidate is being videotaped by the opposition.

We can't imagine why Dayton is afraid to be on the record when speaking to potential constituents. He claims he is not, that what he says in public is on the record. Great. Then he should support efforts to keep candidates honest. What a candidate says in a speech or debate to a large audience can be quite different from what he says to assure an individual voter on a particular issue. If that's the case, citizens need to know, and the candidate needs to be held accountable.


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