Updated: 08/21/2014 6:14 PM
Created: 08/21/2014 12:43 PM KSTP.com
By: Megan Matthews
Minnesota political candidates are taking advantage of the State Fair, using the opportunity to rack up votes ahead of the General Election this fall.
More than 1.7 million people are expected to roam the grounds during the 12-day run. Candidates for governor, senator and other offices are shaking hands and spreading their messages.
On the first day of the fair, Republican candidate for governor, Jeff Johnson, proposed a series of 13 gubernatorial debates leading up to the Nov. 4 election. The first two debates would take place at the fair.
This comes after Gov. Mark Dayton said he would not debate at the Great Minnesota Get Together, but he says he will debate Johnson a half-dozen times between now and November.
“I strongly encourage Governor Dayton to join me in keeping the tradition of debating at the State Fair going strong by debating me not just once but twice here in front of thousands of Minnesotans,” Johnson said at a news conference Thursday. “We’re both going to be here multiple times in the next 12 days, so why wouldn’t we debate the issues that Minnesotans want to hear from us on?”
One of the debates Johnson is proposing would air on KSTP Sunday Oct. 5 if Gov. Dayton accepts.
On the opening day of the fair, Dayton spent time shaking hands and listening to voter concerns at his party's booth.
Democratic Sen. Al Franken and his Republican challenger Mike McFadden crossed paths outside the main gate as both greeted the first fairgoers.
In a video posted by McFadden's campaign on YouTube Thursday, McFadden is seen challenging Franken to six debates. Franken responds by saying their campaign people are still meeting.
Senator Franken's campaign announced Thursday that Franken is set to participate in four debates at this point. That is the same number of debates that candidates participated in during the 2012 U.S. Senate election in Minnesota, according to Franken's campaign.
The Associated Press Contributed to this story.