Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has left Minnesota, but not its politics.

Kluwe, who joined the Oakland Raiders this month, endorsed Council Member Gary Schiff for mayor of Minneapolis today, sending an email to supporters praising his “consistent, clear, progressive voice” and stating that he and his wife Isabel are contributing the $1,000 maximum to his campaign.

Schiff said this afternoon that he became familiar with Kluwe through his writing on marriage equality “and quickly became a big fan .. the central message of the conversations I’ve had with him is really about freedom, whether it’s freedom to marry or freedom for people in Minneapolis.”

The councilman approached him seeking the endorsement, and the two met for breakfast about a month ago to talk about the campaign. Kluwe told reporters in a conference call from California today that he is supporting Schiff because the candidate cares about issues that will affect the city in the long term, not just now, and that they share the same values. He praised Schiff’s work to increase affordable housing and advocate for small businesses.

Kluwe lived in Savage when he was playing for the Vikings, not Minneapolis, but said he was downtown often to practice with his band and eat at restaurants.

Schiff, elected in 2001, is the only candidate out of the half-dozen running to replace Mayor R. T. Rybak who is openly gay.

“It came up because naturally that’s something that Gary is familiar with,” Kluwe said, “but at the end of the day just because someone is gay or isn’t gay, that’s not going to change how I view [them] .. I judge people based on their actions.”

In his email today, Kluwe added that he wants his children "to grow up in a world where it’s not a big deal for a gay man to be mayor of Minneapolis. Electing Gary Schiff is the first step in that direction."