Just about everywhere, but maybe even more around these parts, in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest, we like a little bit of that invaluable “face time” now and then.

    Just about everywhere, but maybe even more around these parts, in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest, we like a little bit of that invaluable “face time” now and then. We like to put a face with an email. We like to extend a hand and offer up a firm handshake. Even in this digital age of communication in the blink of an eye that requires no face-to-face contact, once in a while there’s maybe nothing better than a good, old-fashioned conversation between two actual human beings sharing the same actual space.   

    But, given all that, you know what they say about actions speaking louder than words. When it comes to making visits to Crookston and other communities throughout Greater Minnesota, incumbent DFL Governor Mark Dayton maybe has come up a bit short in his first four years. But the actions – the results that have benefited Crookston and other rural towns peppering the vast majority of the state’s geography not located in and around the Twin Cities under Dayton’s watch during his first term? They’re hard to argue with. With Dayton in the governor’s mansion and a Minnesota Senate and House both led by Democrats, Greater Minnesota is better off now than it was at the end of Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s two terms.   

    So when you’re thinking about who to vote for to be Minnesota’s next governor next month, are you willing to vote for Republican gubernatorial challenger Jeff Johnson because you buy into his contention that Dayton has “abandoned” Greater Minnesota? That’s a serious accusation to level at the governor, and if it’s based largely on a lack of actual visits to rural Minnesota cities made by Dayton over the past four years or so, it’s an especially risky one for Johnson to make. Because if you look at school funding, property tax relief, state aid to cities like Crookston and transportation funding, just to name a few, Dayton and the DFL-led legislature have delivered for Greater Minnesota, even if the governor for the most part hasn’t delivered it in person.    

    Dayton’s campaign staff is, shall we say, enthusiastic. Aggressive, even. They have someone traveling with Johnson to monitor what he says at his various campaign stops. At an Eldred press conference last week, when Johnson cited Dayton’s “abandonment” of Greater Minnesota, Dayton’s staff jumped on it and sent to the Times a list featuring many bullet-points citing everything Dayton has done for Greater Minnesota and Crookston, specifically.   

    At first blush, the reaction in the Times’ newsroom was to simply let Johnson’s claim stand on its own, to let him have his say, without any interference or objection from Dayton’s camp to detract from Johnson’s visit to Eldred. But then, looking at all those bullet-points, it seemed like a major stretch to acknowledge all that had been done for Crookston and Greater Minnesota during Dayton’s first term, while at the same time agreeing that he’s abandoned Minnesota outside the seven-county metro area.   

    And, what do you know? Dayton’s supposed to be in Crookston on Wednesday, to speak at the Northwest Minnesota Council of Collaboratives annual meeting. If nothing else, maybe he heard about Johnson’s accusation and figured he’d better get some face time and press some palms in northwestern Minnesota.