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Brian Bakst, Associated Press Writer, Published October 31 2010

Minnesota governor candidates make one final push

ST. PAUL – Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer focused their campaigns for governor in friendly territory Saturday, just as intent on mobilizing volunteers and the faithful as on finding new votes.

Their trailing rival, Independent Tom Horner, looked for support at a St. Paul event coinciding with comedian Jon Stewart’s rally in Washington, urging people to “stop being afraid” to throw their support to him.

A campaign already more than a year old entered its final weekend with the traditional last push by the candidates before voters choose a winner.

Dayton worked the metro, a reliable base in past elections, with four stops including a pair of union halls. Emmer swept outstate: morning in Mankato with former Sen. Norm Coleman, and then more star power for an afternoon event in the swing territory of Blaine, including GOP Govs. Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Chris Christie of New Jersey. Horner worked two suburbs around the St. Paul event.

Dayton gave a brief pep talk at a St. Paul union hall before sending his doorknocking teams off to seek votes ahead of Tuesday’s election. The former senator spoke for less than 90 seconds before shaking hands, posing for photos and heading off to his next stop.

“You hold the future of this election in your hands today. Your hard work is going to make all the difference in who votes on Tuesday,” Dayton told the room full of nurses, plumbers, electricians, roadbuilders and teachers. “I can’t thank you enough for what you’re doing.”

Emmer told about 2,000 GOP faithful gathered in a Blaine airplane hangar to ignore polls that have shown Dayton with an edge. “We’re winning,” said Emmer, who kept his remarks to the crowd short but hit on his usual themes of reining in government spending and balancing the state budget without tax increases.

Democrats “led us to the brink of financial disaster, but it’s not too late to come back from it,” Emmer said.

Both parties increasingly turned attention to getting out the vote. A coalition of unions plans to make 100,000 phone calls and in-person visits to possible Democratic voters between Saturday and the election, said Chris Shields, a spokesman for the Minnesota AFL-CIO.

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