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“The spirit moved me,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be mayor. It looked like an opportunity. I had something to say and I wanted to say it.”
Delivering yard signs Saturday morning, he bounded up porch steps at a north Minneapolis home. “My name’s Dan Cohen, I’m running for mayor! I could use your help!” he yelled to a woman through the door. He succeeded; a sign went up in her yard.
Cohen won a seat on the council in 1965 after making some contacts while working on Wheelock Whitney’s bid for Senate, and won a second term two years later. Better residential street paving was a cornerstone of his first campaign, and as council president in his second term, he said he helped create two commissions — civil rights and one that helped cut red tape to allow for more industrial development.
Back then, the city was in a state of social unrest, juggling race riots and student demonstrations. The 1969 mayoral campaign hinged on a “law and order” theme partly as a result. Now Cohen is focused on the stadium, police race relations, planning commission conflicts and a downtown casino to help raise revenues — the casino would likely require a statewide referendum.
Stadium: Would try to stop it
If elected, Cohen says he would instruct city officials not to send any money to team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf and tell them the city would not honor its contract. The city is on the hook for $150 million in stadium construction costs and another $189 million for operations. That plan might be somewhat difficult to pull off, since the state would likely take the dollars by force to pay its bonds.
Cohen sees it differently. “I think that Governor Dayton goes to bed every night with a little prayer on his lips that says ‘Somebody get me out of this thing before the election,’ ” he said. “And my answer is, ‘Governor, I’m coming!’ ”
Political calculus wouldn’t normally give much weight to a candidate who has done little fundraising and has minimal field operations. But ranked-choice voting has made the race unpredictable.
But perhaps it’s only natural Cohen would jump into the biggest political scrum the city has seen in a generation. As longtime associate John Derus, a former Hennepin County commissioner, explains, “He’s always at the center of every fight.”
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper