The Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council has taken the unexpected step of endorsing mayoral candidate Mark Andrew, weeks after its president said the organization would likely hold off on making such a decision until after the DFL convention in June.
"We've got relationships with all of the candidates that are running, and we're in a difficult spot," Trades Council President David Ybarra told the Star Tribune in an interview last month.
But on Thursday night, about 30 Trades Council delegates voted unanimously to get in the mix early.
They opted to "have some influence in identifying a candidate and supporting them, rather than sit on the sidelines and have someone else make that decision for us," said Ybarra.
Andrew is a former Hennepin County commissioner who now works as a green marketing executive. He is vying for the DFL endorsement for mayor against Council Members Betsy Hodges, Gary Schiff and Don Samuels, as well as former City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes. Attorney Cam Winton is running as an independent.
Following candidate screenings, Ybarra said, "I came away with the belief that our endorsement meant more to Mark than it did to the other candidates — that, along with the track record that he exhibited when he was on the county board, was enough for me to change my opinion."
DFL Chairman Dan McConnell, who is also business manager of the Trades Council, sat in on the endorsement meeting but did not cast a vote.
"I am a bit surprised," he said Friday. "I had hoped they would hold off until after" the party's June 15 convention.
Trades Council members applauded Andrew on Friday afternoon as he stood at the corner of 6th Avenue and 5th Street N., trumpeting his support for adding more jobs.
"Building is the key to our future, and I am so honored to have the most important builders group in our community standing with me today," he said.