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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published October 29 2010

Minnesota governor candidates fire away in final TV debate

ST. PAUL – Tax talk ruled as Minnesota’s governor candidates Friday night engaged in their final televised debate.

Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer were the prime com-batants as the most recent poll indicated they are locked in a neck-and-neck race, with Tom Horner of the Independence Party far behind.

Dayton said that Emmer voted to raise property taxes when he was a city council member and the Republican blamed state aid cuts to cities as the reason. Dayton, a former U.S. senator, said that an Emmer administration would reduce city aid and force other councils to raise local taxes, too.

Emmer fired back, saying that is not true. Local Government Aid, designed to help cities pay for basic services they otherwise cannot afford, mostly goes to just a few cities, Emmer said, indicating most cities would be little affected by cuts. The state lawmaker from Delano said 20 cities get more than half of the aid and five cities get 40 percent.

The Republican told Dayton that the former senator just cannot understand decisions like he made on Delano and Independence city councils: “You’ve never had to do that.”

Emmer said he has been on the outside looking at politicians, but Dayton retorted by saying Emmer actually has run for office more than the five times he himself has.

The hour-long debate on Twin Cities Public Television “Almanac” was as heated as the 28 that came before.

For more on this story, see Saturday's Forum.