Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday became the latest public official to denounce the recent political attacks against St. Paul mayoral candidate Melvin Carter.
The mayor’s race in St. Paul was roiled by a political mailer, distributed last week, that implied that the theft of two guns from Carter’s home during a burglary had contributed to increased gun violence in the city.
“It’s just very unfortunate this injected that kind of negativity and that kind of racial bias into the race. I support Melvin for very positive reasons and I think he’d be an outstanding mayor,” Dayton, who endorsed Carter, said Monday. Carter has been director of the governor’s Children’s Cabinet for the past four years.
The political committee that sent the postcard, called Building a Better St. Paul, is ceasing activity, committee chairman Brian Bergson said last week after the backlash about the mailer. Many of the group’s donors denounced the language in the mailer.
The St. Paul Police Federation was the political committee’s biggest donor. The Federation also sent Carter, who is black, a letter last week questioning him about the break-in at his home this summer. Stolen items included two handguns and ammunition.
At a campaign event with U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., this weekend, Carter said, “I’ll forever find comfort in the outrage our community has shown at the notion that sworn officers, working with the police union, would use the privilege of their badge as a battering ram.”
Building a Better St. Paul supported Carter’s opponent Pat Harris, who is white. Harris said he did not know about the mailer’s message and said there’s no place in the city for the Federation leadership’s “dirty, political tactics and dog-whistle racism.” Harris has since refunded the Federation’s $600 contribution, as well as $1,250 that Federation President Dave Titus donated to Harris over the past two years, Harris’ campaign manager Michelle Thimios said.
After news of the mailer and Federation’s letter emerged last week, both Harris and current St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, a DFLer who is running for governor, called on the police union’s board to resign.
At least two of Coleman’s gubernatorial opponents, DFLers U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and state Rep. Erin Murphy, addressed the situation on Facebook. Murphy said she would support Carter’s campaign, and Walz called the mailer “thinly veiled prejudice masquerading as political discourse.”