LE CENTER — A recount of more than 41,000 ballots cast in Minnesota Senate District 20, which includes most of Le Sueur County, will begin Wednesday and is expected to conclude by Friday afternoon.
At stake is former state Sen. Kevin Dahle’s return to the Legislature two years after losing by fewer than 900 votes in his first re-election bid and three weeks after winning an even slimmer victory in his comeback attempt.
A Northfield Democrat and Northfield High School social studies teacher, Dahle received 78 more votes than Mike Dudley, a New Prague Republican and retired FBI agent, among 41,231 ballots counted on Election Day. The numbers translate to 50.03 percent for Dahle to 49.84 percent for Dudley, well within the threshold for an automatic recount under state election law — less than one-half of 1 percent.
Dudley said he’s not optimistic about finding enough counting errors to change the result.
“Based on past experience (with Minnesota recounts), it’s not a high probability,” he said.
But he decided against conceding the race and waiving his right to a recount.
“It was just too close to not let it play out,” he said.
Dudley said he considered two factors in deciding whether to waive the recount. First was the support of the 20,550 residents of Le Sueur, Rice and Scott counties who voted for him in a year when most Republican candidates were getting trounced as Minnesota strongly supported Democrats up and down the ballot.
Many of those supporters encouraged him to go forward with the recount, he said.
Secondly, he wanted to make sure the recount wouldn’t be too costly and called the Secretary of State’s Office for data on the expense of previous recounts — something Minnesota has plenty of experience with following statewide recounts in 2008 (the Al Franken-Norm Coleman U.S. Senate race) and 2010 (the Mark Dayton-Tom Emmer contest for governor).