Dayton selects Tina Flint Smith for Lt. Gov.

Minnesota politicsMinnesota Gov. Mark Dayton will announce his Chief of Staff Tina Flint Smith as his 2014 running mate this morning. Smith will join the ticket as the DFL Lt. Gov. candidate for Dayton’s upcoming re-election bid having been probably the most influential member of his first term administration.

Here’s Blois Olson’s write-up from today’s Morning Take:

Today at a 10 AM rally at the AFL-CIO headquarters, Gov. Mark Dayton will introduce his current Chief of Staff Tina Smith as his new running mate for Lt. Governor. BACKGROUND: Smith is a longtime operative who has a keen and bullish view of campaigning and policy. She has worked as a national consultant as well as run multiple MN campaigns. Her name first emerged as a potential candidate last year in the Minneapolis Mayors race. To most people who have worked with the Dayton administration she has been the most powerful person in state government during Dayton’s first term.

So, here’s my take.

Tina Flint Smith’s selection is not a huge surprise. Though I had failed to list her when I talked about candidates a month ago, she has been the leading suggestion since then. Smith is the primary architect of Dayton’s first term agenda and is unlikely to be overly concerned with running for future office, so in many ways she’s got the ideal professional profile for this.

In my mind, the selection also solidifies the coming suburban strategy the DFL will employ, not only to get Dayton re-elected, but also to keep the Minnesota House of Representatives. There had been much speculation that Gov. Dayton would seek regional balance by selecting his IRRRB commissioner Tony Sertich, but the optics of not selecting gender balance and diving into the politics of a greatly misunderstood regional agency, would have been tricky. (Though Sertich would have been a good retail politician for Dayton on the Range, and probably will still serve that purpose).

So there might be some howling from rural DFLers at first, but ultimately I view Tina Flint Smith as a safe pick for Dayton — one who won’t change the outcome much from its likely fate. More DFL votes are protected with her selection than would be protected with a Range option.


  1. “diving into the politics of a greatly misunderstood regional agency”

    Aaron, explain to me if I’m wrong. The IRRRB receives a pot of money – a portion of the production taxes paid by mining companies for extracting minerals pursuant to *state* mineral leases – and manages to rebate about half of it to the mining companies. Or, as in the case of PolyMet, make a loan as a very junior lender; PolyMet’s senior lender is also its largest shareholder, Glencore/Xstrata, which also has a first lien security interest in everything PolyMet owns. Any loan officer at a bank who did this would be polishing his resume.

    It seems pretty obvious that continued investment in mining won’t lead to prosperity in northern Minnesota; it sure hasn’t so far. Wouldn’t the IRRRB be better off trying to diversify the Range economy? Wasn’t that why it was created in the first place?

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