ROCHESTER (AP) - The strength of Minnesota's economy put Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican nominee Jeff Johnson at odds in an opening debate that also saw skirmishes over health care and transportation.

Dayton argued that things have looked up dramatically since he took over in the depths of a recession. Johnson says middle-class Minnesotans haven't shared in the recovery and would do better under tax and spending proposals he's put forward.

Wednesday's nationally televised debate in Rochester also included the Independence Party's Hannah Nicollet, who swerved to the right of Johnson in calling for the elimination of Minnesota's corporate tax. Nicollet was sometimes in line with Dayton, including her openness to raising the gas tax for road construction.

Johnson often swung hard at poll-leader Dayton. They have four debates left.