A campaign ad of a half-naked candidate emerging from a swim is going viral, at least by the standards of the Minneapolis mayoral campaign.

The video (on YouTube at tinyurl.com/MayorAd) begins with a woman standing by a lake saying, “You know what I want? A Minneapolis mayor that really represents the people.”

Candidate Jeffrey Alan Wagner then wades ashore in tight swim trunks and starts blasting the $1 million flowing into the race for a job that pays just over $100,000 a year.

He vows: “I will not take money from the developers. I will not take money from the political angle. I will not even go to the strip clubs anymore. Wake the [expletive] up!” Then he strides back into the water.

Bloggers around the country heralded the ad. One asked: “Can we elect this guy mayor of everything? He seems pretty wonderful.”

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Hot spending in Ward 5

Those following the City Council races may be surprised to learn that more money has been spent this year in the battle for north Minneapolis’ open seat — $90,000 — than any other race in the city.

Most of that hasn’t been raised, though. Two of the three DFL candidates battling for the open council seat have made substantial loans to their campaigns.

Brett Buckner has loaned his campaign about $45,000 this year, in addition to about $7,200 last year — more than any other council candidate citywide and all but one mayoral candidate. He has also spent more than any other council candidate.

Blong Yang loaned his campaign nearly $13,000. Yang and Buckner both raised about $8,000.

The loans were pointed out by the treasurer for the third candidate, attorney Ian Alexander, in an e-mail to supporters. Bruce Center noted that Alexander’s haul of $20,000 was more than the combined fundraising of the other two candidates, though they both surpassed him in spending.

“Please, read these reports and decide for yourself,” Center urged. “I think you will be as shocked as I was.”

(About $3,000 of Alexander’s funds came from people associated with several downtown bars and strip clubs owned by Peter Hafiz).

Buckner’s $52,600 in spending is unusual for council races. The former consultant, now a full-time candidate, says the money was an inheritance from a family member who passed away. Buckner noted that the economic situation in north Minneapolis makes it harder for residents to volunteer for a campaign.

Yang said that the loan was necessary because of fundraising fatigue from when he ran for Hennepin County commissioner last year and the number of candidates running across the city. Yang, a former investigator in the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, forgave a $33,000 loan to his commissioner campaign in January.

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A little Kumbaya?

Did you know that Council Member Betsy Hodges wrote a young adult novel, wind energy attorney Cam Winton is a campfire guitarist extraordinaire, and that Mark Andrew once dreamed of being a professional writer?

These quirky admissions of artistic interests came out during a two-hour forum for Minneapolis mayoral candidates at the MacPhail Center, where the theme of the night was how they would support the arts.

It wasn’t all so lighthearted. Early on, Winton slammed the Convention Center’s “mood ring” sculpture suspended 30 feet above the ground as a waste of public money that he would not have endorsed as mayor, instead favoring arts spending that has a municipal purpose. Former City Council President Cherryhomes countered that the project was “fabulous place-making” worth the money.

All the candidates agreed, however, that arts are a vital part of Minneapolis, and that the city should involve the philanthropic and business community much more in arts initiatives to stretch public dollars.

Candidates also said if they were mayor they’d have forced labor and management to the table much earlier on to resolve the Minnesota Orchestra lockout.