Minneapolis is so DFL-dominated that it’s often called a one-party town. That fact made curious Wednesday morning’s assemblage on City Hall’s south side, under the stony smile of DFL founder Hubert Humphrey’s statue. DFL officials gathered with four of their party’s officially anointed candidates for City Council to tout them and trumpet the value of DFL endorsement.
One might conclude that the 1,000-pound gorilla in Minneapolis politics is a nervous beast this year.
Three of the four candidates in attendance – Jacob Frey in Ward 3, Abdi Warsame in Ward 6, and Lisa Peterson Bender in Ward 10 -- are challenging sitting incumbents who failed to win their party’s blessing for another term. Also present were Alondra Cano, one of six candidates for an open seat in Ward 9, and a relative representing Ward 13 candidate Linea Palmisano, who has four rivals for another open seat.
They all praised the advantages that DFL endorsement will bring them in volunteers, money and mention on the legendary DFL sample ballot. But I doubt they would not have summoned reporters to City Hall on the day after the candidate filing period closed if they thought those advantages were sufficient to assure victory on Nov. 5.
A major challenge for Minneapolis candidates this year will be name recognition. Ranked choice voting worked as its advocates predicted, attracting the “vitality” of dozens of new candidates. Thirty-five names stood on the mayoral list alone on Wednesday morning.
Discerning who’s who will be a challenge for voters. Asking the DFL endorsees Wednesday for help in seeing the differences that separate them from their competition did not elicit sharp contrasts. They spoke of “new blood” and “honoring the endorsement process,” and said they support more diversity and population density in the city. To some degree, so do their major rivals. Voters – and journalists – will need to press for more specificity to better understand the choices this election presents.