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Mark Dayton

In office
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Rod Grams
Succeeded by Amy Klobuchar

Born January 26, 1947 (1947-01-26) (age 62)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Political party Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Spouse(s) Alida Rockefeller (divorced)
Residence Minneapolis
Alma mater Yale University
Occupation department store executive (retired); U.S. Senator (retired)
Religion Presbyterianism

Mark Brandt Dayton (born January 26, 1947) is a former Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party U.S. Senator from Minnesota who served from 2001 to 2007 in the 107th, 108th, and 109th Congresses.


Personal Background

Dayton was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Gwendolen May Brandt and Bruce Bliss Dayton.[1] He is a great grandson of George Dayton. In 1969, he graduated cum laude from Yale University, where he excelled academically and athletically, starting as goalie for Yale's varsity hockey team. He also joined Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, whose membership at the time included George W. Bush. He worked as a teacher in New York City. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States Senate in 1982.

Dayton served as a legislative assistant to Senator Walter Mondale. He was Minnesota state auditor in the years 1991–1995 and was elected to the United States Senate in 2000, defeating Republican incumbent Rod Grams. Dayton's ex-wife, Alida Rockefeller Messinger, is the sister of U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller.

He has two sons from his previous marriage. Dayton is a recovering alcoholic and has been treated for depression.[2]

U.S. Senate

Dayton campaigning with Walter Mondale during his first run for the Senate in 1982.

Dayton, an heir to the Dayton's Department Store fortune, financed his 2000 Senate campaign with $12 million of his own money, but stated he would not do the same for future campaigns.

In October 2004, Dayton closed his Washington office until the November elections, citing reports of a possible terrorist attack. Every other senator chose to keep their office open, and Dayton received national scrutiny, as well as some criticism, for his move. Dayton explained that he was not planning to be in Washington during this time, and it would be unfair of him to subject his staff and visitors to the risk. Already considered a vulnerable incumbent, by the next year his approval ratings had declined by double digits.

On February 9, 2005 he announced that he would not run for re-election, stating, "Everything I've worked for, and everything I believe in, depends upon this Senate seat remaining in the Democratic caucus in 2007. I do not believe that I am the best candidate to lead the DFL Party to victory next year." [2] Dayton was succeeded by Amy Klobuchar, another DFLer.

On September 22, 2005, the forty-fourth anniversary of the day President John F. Kennedy signed the Peace Corps into law, Dayton became the first U.S. senator to introduce legislation creating a Department of Peace. At the same time, similar legislation was introduced in the House by Congressman Dennis Kucinich and sixty cosponsors.

In April 2006, Dayton was selected by Time as one of America's Five Worst Senators. The magazine dubbed him "The Blunderer" for "erratic behavior" such as his closure of his office in 2004, his comments in February 2005 that the Mayo Clinic in Rochester was "worth a hell of a lot more than the whole state of South Dakota" and his complaints about "basic facts of the job, such as his limited power in a chamber where authority derives from seniority".[3]

In September 2006, Dayton requested a review of the Rogers, Minnesota tornado[4] to determine whether the National Weather Service had acted properly. The claims of personnel failure were later found to be unfounded in the NWS Service Assessment.[5]


He received a 90 percent progressive rating from a self-described non-partisan group that provides a "searchable database of Congressional voting records from a Progressive perspective."[6] And he scored a 9 percent conservative rating by the conservative group SBE Council.[7] In contrast, Minnesota's Class 2 senator Norm Coleman received a score of 14 percent progressive and 73 percent conservative by the same groups.[6][7]

Lawsuit against Dayton reaches U.S. Supreme Court

Dayton was the defendant in a 2003 wrongful termination lawsuit — officially entitled Office of Senator Mark Dayton v. Brad Hanson — that was appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Oral arguments were heard on April 24, 2007. At issue in the case is whether a U.S. Senator can be sued for wrongful termination or if such legal actions are barred by the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause, which protects lawmakers from having legislative work questioned by courts. [3]. The Supreme Court ruled (8 to 0) that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal and dismissed the case without reaching the merits. For a summary of the case, see Oyez [4], which has oral arguments, parties briefings, written opinion, etc. For additional commentary, see ScotusBlog [5]

Minnesota Gubernatorial Election, 2010

On January 16, 2009, Dayton announced his candidacy for Governor of the state of Minnesota.[6] Dayton will face a field of DFL challengers in a primary election to be held in September, 2010.

Electoral history

Mark Dayton in 2009.
  • 2000 Race for U.S. Senate - Democratic Primary
    • Mark Dayton (DFL), 41%
    • Mike Ciresi (DFL), 22%
    • Jerry Janezich (DFL), 21%
    • Rebecca Yanisch (DFL), 15%
    • Others, 1%
  • 1990 Race for State Auditor
    • Mark Dayton (DFL), 58%
    • Bob Heinrich (R), 42%
  • 1982 Race for U.S. Senate — Democratic Primary


  1. ^ 1
  2. ^ Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Baird Helgeson, 'People have a right to know,' Dayton says, Star Tribune, December 27, 2009
  3. ^ Massimo Calabresi and Perry Bacon, Jr., "Mark Dayton: The Blunderer", Time Magazine, April 24, 2006, page 32.
  4. ^ Associated Press, "Dayton Calls for Rogers tornado investigation", Star Tribune, September 19, 2006
  5. ^ NWS, [1], NWS Service Assesment of September 16, 2006 Rogers, MN Tornado
  6. ^ a b "Leading with the Left". Progressive Punch. Retrieved 2006-11-02.  
  7. ^ a b "Congressional Voting Scorecard 2005" (pdf). SBE Council’s Congressional Voting Scorecard 2005. Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. June, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-02.  

See Also

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Arne Carlson
State Auditor of Minnesota
Succeeded by
Judi Dutcher
United States Senate
Preceded by
Rod Grams
United States Senator (Class 1) from Minnesota
Served alongside: Paul Wellstone, Dean Barkley, Norm Coleman
Succeeded by
Amy Klobuchar

Simple English

Mark Dayton is the current Governor serving in Minnesota. He was the United States Senator from Minnesota 2001 to 2007. He was born in Minneapolis on January 26, 1947.


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