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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Write-in candidates want votes counted

ST. PAUL -- Almost everyone knows there are three major candidates for Minnesota governor in Tuesday's election, a few know about four others in the contest and almost no one knows another three are running as write-ins.

Candidates waging write-in campaigns need to register with elections officials to have their votes counted. So if Mickey Mouse does not register, the votes he seemingly always receives will go for naught.

Hoping not to go the route of Mickey, three governor-lieutenant governor write-in teams have registered with the secretary of state's office: Sherif Mansour-Tamer Mansour, Leslie Davis-Gregory K. Soderberg and John J. Uldrich-Robert S. Carney Sr. Davis, Uldrich and Carney all ran for governor in the Aug. 10 primary election, and lost by large margins.

Besides Republican Tom Emmer, Tom Horner of the Independence Party and Democrat Mark Dayton, names on the ballot will be Ken Pentel of the Ecology Democracy Party, Farheen Hakeem of the Green Party, Linda Eno of the Resource Party and Chris Wright on the Grassroots Party.

For state attorney general, perennial candidate Sharon Anderson registered so her write-in votes count.

Others who have registered include Jack Shepard (the guy living in Italy with arrest warrants out for him in Minnesota) and Amber Garlan, 4th Congressional District; Paul Koering, Senate District 12; Jason Stevens, Senate District 29; Nicole Beaulieu and Phillip L. Nelson, House District 4A; Pat Porter, House District 11B; and Josh D. Ondich, 1st Judicial District.

School votes, too

Voters in 78 Minnesota school districts Tuesday will decide whether to tax themselves to bolster school budgets.

If they all pass, they would bring in $82.5 million more annually.

They are called excess operating levies, but Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher pegs them as "school survival levies." He strongly urges voters to pass them.

More than 90 percent of the state's districts rely on such levies for some of their funding.

Dooher said the levies are needed now, but are not the long-term answer to school funding woes. He said the state needs to provide more of the funding. However, he would not say how much more money the state needs to pump into schools.

Tax relief available

Property owners affected by September flooding are eligible for property tax relief.

To be eligible for relief, they need to live in a county declared a disaster area and prove the floods made it impossible to pay their second-half property taxes.

A federal disaster declaration has been extended to eight more counties, and the state made property tax available to those counties, too. Those counties are Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Cottonwood, Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Goodhue, Jackson, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmsted, Pipestone, Redwood, Rice, Rock, Sibley, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Watonwan, Winona and Yellow Medicine counties.

More information is available at

Trackers troubling

Mark Dayton has campaigned off and on for 30 years, but it seems that the one thing that bothers him most about today's political atmosphere is the practice of campaigns and political parties sending "trackers" to follow opposing candidates.

At every public event, at least one Republican tracker records Dayton's remarks. Those videos may be used in television or Web commercials against the Democrat.

"It is very hard to let down your hair," said Dayton, who sometimes jokes about his expanding bald spot. "Everything is taken out of context."

Tom Horner of the Independence Party and Republican Tom Emmer also see followers from opposing camps, but have been less vocal detractors of the practice.

During a recent joint appearance, Dayton and Emmer said they would invite trackers from the opposite party to a party, putting blame on political parties not the individuals carrying video cameras.

Trackers have come to be common in recent elections and now are as common at events as campaign signs.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.