- Associated Press - Monday, November 7, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Democrats and Republicans didn’t let up on the eve of Election Day, hosting rallies and contacting voters across the state on Monday in hopes of pushing their candidates over the top in the presidential race on down the ballot.

Back-to-back, last-minute Minnesota visits from Donald Trump and running mate Mike Pence gave Republicans a glimmer of hope of reversing the state’s 40-year tradition of breaking for Democratic presidential candidates. But Democrats and their finely tuned get-out-the-vote operation were working to limit any impact from the top Republicans’ stops in Minneapolis and Duluth. At stake in Minnesota on Tuesday are a trio of competitive congressional races as well as control of the Minnesota House and Senate.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton spent Monday barnstorming to fire up voters across the state, hitting spots from Northfield to St. Paul. Though the Dayton isn’t on the ballot, he’s getting involved to help Democrats retake control of the House, which could ease his final two years in office.

Among Dayton’s stops Monday was a get-out-the-vote rally in Faribault, where Democrats are aiming to win back a House seat lost in 2014 and hang on to a Senate district that’s critical to maintaining their majority in that chamber. Dayton aimed to rile up volunteers by referencing Nolan West, a GOP candidate in a district 70 miles away who posted “IT’S LYNCHING TIME” on Facebook shortly after President Barack Obama’s 2008 election.

“I just want to make the point that hate is not limited to the top of the Republican ticket,” he said, also criticizing outside Republican groups for spending money to attack West’s opponent in that race. “We need a majority in the House and Senate.”

Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt was making the rounds as well, including a stop in Faribault to support GOP Rep. Brian Daniels re-election bid. Daudt has traveled from Bloomington to Hastings and Inver Grove Heights in recent weeks, knocking doors to support candidates in seats that are critical to maintaining his House majority, which he says serves as a check against Dayton.

“We are providing the balance and the compromise in St. Paul,” Daudt said. “We’ve done a good job shrinking the map for Democrats.”

Voters were still taking advantage of the ability to cast an early ballot in the state’s first election with a no-excuse absentee voting law. A steady stream of people headed into Minnetonka City Hall on Monday. For some the line was so long, that they gave up and left without voting, saying they would return on Election Day.

Lines wound outside and around the block at an early voting center in downtown Minneapolis.

By Monday, more than 568,000 voters had already cast their ballots, more than twice as many as at the same point in the 2012 election.

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Associated Press writer Amy Forliti contributed to this report.

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This story has been corrected to show that Gov. Mark Dayton did not visit Rochester Monday.


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