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Gov. Dayton picks chief of staff as running mate

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ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton did not look far to find a new running mate.

He announced Tuesday that his chief of staff, Tina Flint Smith, will replace Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon on this year's ballot.

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State Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, was a prominent frontrunner for the vacancy but announced last week that she was not interested in the position.

In much of Dayton's three years in office Smith has been more visible than Prettner Solon, who opted against running for a second term after complaining last summer that she and Dayton seldom talked and she had little say in the administration.

With Smith, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party will put forth an all-Minneapolis team in November. Dayton lived there before moving to his official state residence in St. Paul and Smith lives there.

When Dayton named Smith his chief of staff before taking office, he said: "She is widely known and respected not only as a strong, seasoned leader, but also for her ability to build bridges and reach common ground. I’ve asked her to spearhead our focus on government reform, so that we can deliver the best possible services to taxpayers at the lowest possible costs."

Before joining the Dayton administration, Smith was chief of staff to then-Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. She also brought varied experience in the business and nonprofit sectors.

Smith began her career at General Mills, founded a marketing and communications firm that served foundations and businesses, and is a veteran of dozens of local, state and national political campaigns.

Smith has been Dayton's go-to staffer for several projects, including an effort to streamline state government.

In Minnesota, the governor candidate typically picks their running mate, who is rubber-stamped by state convention delegates when they meet in the spring.

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