Antigay Republican Tom Emmer is making headlines for benefiting from Target Corp.'s $150K contribution to a conservative PAC supporting his bid for governor of Minnesota.
What isn't making many headlines is the identity of his likely opponent. Pro-gay former U.S. senator Mark Dayton is in the lead heading into the August 10 Democratic primary, facing off against for the gubernatorial nomination against Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Kelliher. An heir to Dayton-Hudson Corp. fortune, Mark Dayton is the great-grandson of George Dayton, who stared the Dayton's department store chain. In 1962, Dayton's opened the first Target, a discount department store.
"Mark Dayton's connection to Target is mostly a historical one," his deputy campaign manager Katharine Tinucci told The Advocate.
But she says the campaign takes Target's support of Emmer "as a sign the CEO and other executives take Mark Dayton's promise to tax the richest Minnesotans" more seriously.
Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel defended Target's contribution in an e-mail to employees Tuesday, saying the company supports "candidates on both sides of the aisle who seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives, such as job creation and economic growth." He went on to defend the company's commitment to LGBT rights as "unwavering," writing that inclusiveness is a "core value" of the company.
But gay activists aren't pleased with the donation, and a boycott of Target is gaining momentum.
Meanwhile, Dayton is continuing to remind voters of his strong record on gay rights, including a campaign promise to fight to legalize gay marriage in Minnesota if he's elected.
"Mark stands strong on his commitment to gay Minnesotans," Tinucci said. "He's dedicated to equality for all."