ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's three major governor candidates say they want privately funded negative advertisements to end, but television viewers should not get their hopes up.
On the day that Republicans began airing statewide a commercial calling DFL candidate Mark Dayton "erratic" and "too risky for Minnesota," Dayton called for a "political cease fire" on such ads. While he said the current GOP ad could run its course, he asked that groups putting up the spots to stick with positive ads.
Dayton's suggestion mirrors a 2008 one by Republican Norm Coleman, then seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate. Independent groups that put up commercial did not listen then and there are indications they will not listen to Dayton this year.
"I don't think it is possible," Deputy GOP Chairman Michael Brodkorb said when reporters asked if the 2010 governor's race could be positive.
The commercial Republicans are airing criticizes Dayton for closing his U.S. Senate office in 2004 after receiving what Dayton called "a top secret" briefing that indicated the Capitol was a likely terrorist target. Time magazine called him an erratic senator, in part for that decision.
"It is an ugly ad because it is an ugly record," Brodkorb said.
Brodkorb also criticized Dayton for not stopping his son, ex-wife, cousin and aunt from donating more than $850,000 to the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, which produced ads attacking Republican candidate Tom Emmer.
Dayton, in politics for 35 years, promised to be positive.
"Some people will stoop to anything and stop at nothing," he said.
Dayton said that before he won the Democratic-Farmer-Laborite nomination on Tuesday, he did not feel it appropriate to ask independent organizations to stand down on negative ads. Campaigns cannot legally coordinate advertising with independent groups, so the public call by Dayton and other candidates is about all they can do.
Emmer and Tom Horner of the Independence Party joined Dayton in asking that negative ads be avoided.
"Tom Emmer has been and will continue to run a positive campaign based on the issues important to Minnesota's future," Emmer Campaign Manager Cullen Sheehan said. "We hope that Mark Dayton is sincere and that his call for a clean campaign will extend to his union allies and family members who have been funding all summer some of the nastiest ads we've ever seen in this state."
Horner was directly critical of the GOP ad.
"Before the paint had even dried on the Democratic primary results, the first message we see from the Republicans is negative," Horner said. "They used their platform not to share a positive vision for the future of Minnesota but, instead, to launch a personal attack."
Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.