A candidate with a similar name to Abdi Warsame, the DFL-endorsed candidate in the sixth ward City Council race, abruptly dropped out after filing to run on Tuesday.
“It was a mistake … I’m not running for anything,” said Abdulahi Mahamud Warsame in a phone interview this morning.
He submitted papers to run in the heavily East African ward in the same two-day span as three other candidates with similar names to Abdi Warsame: Abdi Addow, Sheikh Abdul, and Abukar Abdi. (Another longtime candidate considered a long-shot, Mahamed Cali, filed Monday.) Abdi Warsame suggested that the filings were a dirty tactic by surrogates of his main opponent in the race, Council Member Robert Lilligren, to confuse voters.
Abdulahi Mahamud Warsame paused at length when repeatedly asked why he had gone down to City Hall to file for candidacy. He said he filled out the form, realized other candidates had similar names, and “I thought that would be confusing.” He said he told them immediately he was dropping out and that the whole matter took 15 minutes, though the webpage did not update to show his withdrawal until later this morning.
Asked about Abdi Warsame’s suggestion that he was running at the behest of Lilligren’s campaign workers, he said: “I don’t know anything about that.”
“I don’t want to run,” he said.
Lilligren and the other candidates did not immediately return phone messages today.
The sixth ward race is among the most competitive of this year’s city elections, as East Africans are mobilizing to try to elect one of their own. The district's boundaries were redrawn last year in a way that gives them more political influence. But Lilligren’s campaign has complained that Abdi Warsame’s team used hardball tactics to win the party endorsement this spring, allegations that his opponent denied and described as a sign of the council member’s frustration at falling behind.
Abdi Warsame, speaking before the webpage was updated to reflect his opponent's withdrawal, said he wants the latecomer candidates to run.
“We want them to stay in the race, run a campaign, buy some suits, put up a Facebook page, start kissing babies,” he said.
“People find it amusing, people find it funny, and it’s a sign of desperation,” he added.