The Clock: The state's plan is to finish the recount by Dec. 7, then examine the disputed ballots and potentially certify a winner by Dec. 14. But watch for any delays in the process. With Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) set to leave office in early January, anything that drags the process out will only increase talk of Pawlenty possibly staying in office beyond his current term.
All counties started counting on Monday, and at present, delays looks unlikely. Even if the process wraps up as scheduled, though, the losing candidate could still challenge the result in court, potentially further extending the contest.
What Emmer Is Saying: In an interview last week, Emmer made clear that he will not go to court to contest the results of the recount if it is clear that he cannot win, saying "I don't want to put myself or others through a futile process."
To be sure, if Dayton prevails as the clear-cut winner in the recount and Emmer does not immediately concede, Democrats will point to Emmer's remarks as they pressure him to step aside.
If Republicans do find problems with the process they deem serious enough to continue the battle in court even after a recount has been completed, Emmer's remarks leave the door open for that possibility, as he did not categorically rule out further appeals.
Watch for any change in tone from Emmer, as well as for any developments during the recount that may justify an extended battle. For now his position is to wait, let the process play out and see where it goes. But if he backs off his comments, or suggests that a post-recount court challenge is or is not likely in the offing, we may have a better idea of the direction the race will take, post recount.
The PR War: It is unlikely that any credible calls for Emmer to drop out will appear until after the recount is completed. But should Dayton be declared the winner after the recount, Emmer's decision of what to do next must be considered with the public's perception in mind.
How a potentially extended battle is perceived would also likely determine how much further Emmer is willing to go. In Alaska, Senate candidate Joe Miller (R) has been facing calls from members of his own party for him to throw in the towel as he presses on and how much resistance Emmer faces -- justified or not -- is also something to keep an eye on after the recount wraps up.
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