DULUTH (AP) - Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican challenger Jeff Johnson are dueling over whose policies would make life easier for average Minnesota families.

In their first one-on-one debate Tuesday, the candidates both grabbed for the mantle of middle-class champion.

Dayton highlighted steps to boost school budgets, freeze college tuition and increase the minimum wage as evidence of his commitment. Johnson says the incumbent's policies have made things tougher for business, complicated health insurance shopping and let roads and bridges languish.

Johnson says he doesn't think Dayton "understands the struggles of the middle class" as someone who comes from family wealth. Dayton counters that Johnson is desperate to denigrate state progress because he trails in the race.

The debate was Minnesota's first in two decades to feature only a pair of candidates.