Dayton tonight to give surgery-delayed State of the State speech


Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday night will give his annual State of the State speech, somewhat later in the year than usual due to his recovery from hip surgery.

The yearly address is typically made by governors at the beginning of the legislative session to lay out a vision for Minnesota, but lawmakers are now nearing the session's end.

The speech now serves as much as a political jumpstart to his re-election campaign as a roadmap for the state, MPR News notes.

Dayton is likely to tout his work with the DFL-controlled legislature in the last two years: a minimum wage hike, legalization of same-sex marriage, a tax increase on the top 2 percent of earners, and a tax cut for low- and middle-income families.

Dayton had hip surgery in February, and while he has been working – he returned to the Capitol in March in pursuit of a tax cut bill – he has not been on the campaign trail since his procedure at Mayo Clinic. He has said that he likely won't actively campaign until the legislative session is over.

A Suffolk University poll of Minnesota voters released Tuesday found that Dayton leads six Republican challengers by between 12 and 18 percentage points, the Pioneer Press reported.

A KSTP/Survey USA poll earlier this month found Dayton's approval ratings had dipped below a key 50 percent threshold often regarded as critical to re-elections.

Mid-term elections can be difficult for Democrats, DFL Chairman Ken Martin told MPR. The party has opened new offices that will employ 35 field workers in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Rochester, St. Cloud and other cities, a move made earlier this year than usual, the Associated Press reported.

Dayton's speech to the joint session of the Legislature is at 7 p.m. Wednesday. It will be broadcast live on PBS television stations statewide, MPR, WCCO Radio AM 830, and on the websites of the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press. Minnesotans are encouraged to join live conversations during the speech on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MNSOTS.

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Most of the speeches in recent years have been in the afternoon, but Governor Mark Dayton has scheduled this year's for 7 p.m. on February 15th.