Attempts to oust Minneapolis DFL Chairman Dan McConnell failed on Thursday, despite demands from a significant contingent of party activists that he step down over a poll he commissioned.
McConnell spent $2,000 last month on a poll to see if Green Party Council Member Cam Gordon was vulnerable to a challenge, drawing a chorus of criticism. Gordon, who represents the Second Ward, is a reliable ally of progressives at City Hall, and McConnell's wife, Minneapolis DFL Secretary Becky Boland, was a potential candidate to run against him.
The Minneapolis DFL's executive committee censured McConnell, calling the poll an "imprudent and unilateral expenditure." They required him to pay for the poll with his own money, suspended his authority to spend DFL money for three months and asked for a state DFL investigation into the matter.
"I apologize for my actions and use of poor judgment in the circumstance during the Second Ward poll," McConnell said in a brief statement. "I look forward to putting this incident behind me."
But the censure and apology did not satisfy some DFL insiders, revealing a clear rift in the party.
Dan Engelhart, the business agent for the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, presented a petition demanding that Boland and McConnell step down.
"We have hundreds of people signing a petition demanding the resignation of Becky Boland and Dan McConnell," said Engelhart. "This kind of corruption is exactly what we need to stand against."
Toward the end of the meeting, Adi Penugonda, a University of Minnesota student and Minneapolis DFL delegate, moved that the committee issue a "notice of dismissal on grounds of malfeasance and abuse of power."
The motion, which would have triggered a 30-day investigation if McConnell refused to resign, came to a vote and failed, 22-14.
The Minneapolis DFL chair is tasked with, among other things, making sure precinct caucuses, conventions and endorsements go smoothly. McConnell is a former electrician whose day job is as business manager of the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council.