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Associated Press, Published November 01 2010

Minnesota candidates on the move as clock runs down

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The final burst of campaigning saw Minnesota political candidates branch out into all corners of the state while also sending out last-minute pleas via television ads.

The three contenders for governor got going early Monday for events meant as much to stir the faithful as to draw in new supporters.

Democrat Mark Dayton's itinerary called for stops in Duluth, Hibbing, Moorhead, Worthington and Rochester before closing his day at rallies in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The former senator took an hour detour to the Capitol for a swearing-in ceremony for the new head of the Minnesota National Guard.

Dayton said he wasn't taking any votes for granted — and he got some pointers from former GOP Gov. Al Quie, who sat next to Dayton at the ceremony.

"You never know what might make the difference in the last minute," he said. "Governor Quie was reminding me that sometime people go in in the last minute literally and make up their mind as they're walking into the voting booth."

Quie is formally supporting the Independence Party's Tom Horner, a former GOP consultant. Horner split his team into three buses for events around Minnesota, including Moorhead. They were scheduled to converge for a Midway Stadium rally in St. Paul on Monday night.

Republican nominee Tom Emmer had a pre-sunrise launch to a 19-city tour, part of it in his customized RV bearing his logo and photos of him and part by plane. Departing Gov. Tim Pawlenty hooked up with him for several stops, and both plan to be at the Moorhead airport late Monday afternoon. The tour was to run through the night and a couple hours past the opening of polls.

Pawlenty said the final events are important in tight races like this one.

"If you can reach that extra 10 people by seeing them at an airport or somebody might see the candidates one last time on television and get an impression," Pawlenty said. "To the extent it even affects 1 percent of the undecideds or 1 percent of the voters, that can swing the election."

Pawlenty would know. One percentage point was his winning margin in 2006.

Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann also paused from campaigning for the Guard ceremony before heading to coffee shops and phone banks in Anoka, Monticello, St. Cloud and Woodbury. Bachmann faces Democratic state Sen. Tarryl Clark in a race that already topped $12 million in spending a couple of weeks ago, making it the nation's most expensive House contest.

"It's all about getting out the vote now," Bachmann said.

Over the weekend, Bachmann started airing a final TV ad showing blue words on a white screen, urging people to vote for a change in direction in Washington.

Clark was making her way across the 6th Congressional District, with stops in St. Cloud, St. Joseph, Waite Park, Anoka and Coon Rapids. She was running a full-minute ad questioning Bachmann's commitment to the district in frequent rotation on Twin Cities stations.

Two other races for Congress were being closely watched, a matchup between Democratic Rep. Tim Walz and Republican state Rep. Randy Demmer in southern Minnesota and an unexpectedly heated contest between longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar and Republican challenger Chip Cravaack in northeastern Minnesota.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.