Mark Brandt Dayton

Contact Information

Telephone:651-201-3400 (Main phone number)
Telephone:651-797-3600 (Main campaign number)
Campaign finance

Candidate Background

Birth place:Minneapolis, MN
Residence:Minneapolis, MN
First Elected:2010


Next Election:2014

Undergraduate education: Yale University


Mark Dayton was born in Minneapolis, the great-grandson of the man who founded Dayton Hudson Corp., which is now Target. He earned a bachelor's in psychology from Yale University, protested against the war in Vietnam and earned a place on President Nixon's enemies list.

Dayton dabbled in the family business, but shifted toward careers as a New York City teacher and a counselor at a Boston runaway shelter.

He was a state development director, the Minnesota state auditor and later a U.S. senator.

He was elected governor in 2010.

Dayton is twice divorced. He has two sons from his first marriage.


Mark Dayton, an enduring figure in Minnesota politics, was elected governor in 2010, although it took a statewide recount to confirm his victory over Republican Tom Emmer by nearly 9,000 votes.

The victory came 12 years after Dayton first tried and failed to win the office, and only a few years after his political career appeared to be over.

Dayton was elected to a U.S. Senate seat in 2000 after a campaign funded in part by his personal fortune. Once in the Senate, it became clear Dayton — a quiet person who is not a smooth public speaker — wasn't a good fit.

He entered the Senate with the least seniority and in the shadow of Minnesota's charismatic senior senator, Democrat Paul Wellstone. After Wellstone's death in a plane crash days before the 2002 election, Dayton tried to step up his profile as the senior Democrat from the state.

For most of his Senate tenure, he was in the minority party. He touted his role in securing money for a pioneering mental health program for soldiers returning from combat and setting up a hotline for people denied claims by their insurance companies.

Dayton voted against authorizing the war with Iraq and was a sharp critic of President George W. Bush's policy there. But his stumbles got far more attention. In 2004, he earned ridicule by temporarily closing his Washington Senate office, saying a secret intelligence report had made him fear for his staff's safety. No other senators followed his lead.

After spending about $12 million of his own money to win the seat, Dayton said he wouldn't self-finance a re-election campaign. But he couldn't stand fundraising either, so he decided to step aside after one term.

Once back in Minnesota, he set his eyes on the governor's office, which his party hadn't held since 1991. He overcame several other Democrats before beating Emmer.

Dayton pledged to raise taxes during that campaign, and once in office, attempted to follow through as the state wrestled with a roughly $6 billion shortfall. But the Republican-controlled Legislature balked, leading to an embarrassing and costly state government shutdown that lasted three weeks in July 2011 before Dayton gave up on higher taxes and accepted a GOP proposal.

Dayton's first term was also notable for his leading role in approving a $975 million taxpayer-subsidized stadium for the Minnesota Vikings in May 2012. Dayton spent months cajoling legislative leaders to work together to avoid the possibility that the team would leave the state. The project relies on expanded charitable gambling to cover the state's share.

Dayton aggressively raised money to pursue a second term in 2014, and pledged to try again to raise taxes on Minnesota's wealthier residents.

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Mark Dayton won his August 2014 primary, he will face Jeff Johnson, Hannah Nicollet, Chris Holbrook and Chris Wright in November.

(Last updated by The Associated Press on August 13, 2014.)

Last updated 3:16pm March 1, 2018