This past Tuesday, former Senator Mark Dayton eked out a win over Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Kelliher in the Democratic primary for the Minnesota statehouse. Dayton begins his campaign against GOP nominee Tom Emmer with a substantial lead but he has vulnerabilities in the form of baggage from his personal life.
Dayton has been fairly frank in discussing much of this: he's a recovering alcoholic and has sought treatment for depression. But the larger sticking point is that most Beltway types remember Dayton for that time back in 2004 when he bolted from Washington, DC in a panic over terrorism:
But Dayton told reporters in Minneapolis that Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, recently briefed lawmakers on a "top-secret intelligence report on our national security."
"I would not bring my two sons to Capitol Hill between now and the elections," he said.
Dayton issued a statement earlier in the day, announcing that he was closing his Washington office until after the election.
"I do so out of extreme, but necessary, precaution to protect the lives and safety of my Senate staff and my Minnesota constituents, who might otherwise visit my office in the next few weeks. I feel compelled to do so, because I will not be here in Washington to share in what I consider to be an unacceptably greater risk to their safety."
The Minnesota GOP has already released an ad that drills down on all of this, recalling Dayton's flight from DC because he was worried about the threat of terrorism, calling him "panicky" and "erratic."
Of course, there were a whole other group of lawmakers who got all panicky and erratic over terrorism and started surveilling American citizens, throwing people in jail without trial and launching pointless and costly wars in Iraq, so, you know, sliding scale.