Tomorrow night is precinct caucus night here in Minneapolis. This year, that means a lot. My friend Naomi, whose political picks I’ve frequently linked here near election time, explains.
So, R.T. Rybak, who has been Mayor of Minneapolis for over a decade, announced a couple of months ago that he’s not going to run again. Minneapolis city elections (with the exception of school board races) do not have primaries: instead, they use Instant Runoff. So you get the full list of everyone running and get to rank at least your top preferences (I think you’re limited to three). Here is FairVote.org’s explanation of How Instant Runoff Voting Works — I’m not going to get into the details here.
Last time around (in 2009) there were 11 candidates. Now, last time, that didn’t really matter. R.T. was going to win; Kolstad was going to come in a distant second; everyone else was going to be a footnote. This time, there will be a selection of quite a few serious contenders, and no primary to winnow them down to the top two. When R.T. won the first time, we went into the primary with four serious contenders. This time, there are already way more than four serious candidates, although sifting out the “considering a run” people from the “actually running” people is still pretty confusing. Betsy Hodges, Don Samuels and Gary Schiff are all running; they’re all current City Council members. Jackie Cherryhomes is running. (Note: at this time, I would like to formally endorse ANYONE ELSE IN THE RACE. I am not a fan of hers.) Mark Andrew (former Hennepin County Commissioner) is running. Hussein Samatar (school board member) is running. Bob Fine and John Erwin (both Park Board) are both maybe running or maybe they’re just considering. Tom Hoch (director of the Hennepin Theater Trust) is maybe running. I am quite sure this is only a partial list.
And I’m only talking here about candidates and potential candidates who have political experience, actual qualifications, a campaign committee, etc. Anyone who files (which they can’t actually do until June) and doesn’t withdraw will be on the ballot. While some cities have some significant hoops that you need to jump through (a large fee, a petition with some non-trivial number of signatures on it, etc.) I’m pretty sure that Minneapolis makes it easy.
My point here is that the ballot is going to be long. Really long.
DFL endorsements are always helpful to Minneapolis candidates, but this year, the DFL endorsement could be absolutely critical, to help the individual who gets it stand out from the (ludicrously) long list. All or nearly all of these people are Democrats. (Any who aren’t, are Greens. Minneapolis Republicans who want to win elections have to pretend to be conservative Democrats. Actually, no, that doesn’t work either. Minneapolis Republicans who want to win elections have to move to the suburbs.) The DFL endorsement could easily swing the election.
What this means is that alert Minneapolis residents have the opportunity to grab some seriously out-sized political influence if they act soon, and provided that they are available on April 16th (for an hour or two in the evening) and June 15th (for the entire day).
Naomi has a lot more about what it means to be a delegate. Unless you’re extremely introverted, socially phobic, or uninterested in politics, it’s really not that bad. If you’re in Minneapolis and care who your mayor is, you should strongly be considering this.
More information from the DFL is here.