Mohamud Noor got a significant boost in his challenge of long-time state Rep. Phyllis Kahn on Thursday by winning the endorsement of former Mayor R.T. Rybak.
Rybak's endorsement is sure to shake up the race, an intraparty DFL battle that has already exposed tensions within the city's Somali-American community. Noor would be the legislature's first Somali-American state representative, but Kahn boasts the support of Council Member Abdi Warsame, now the state's most prominent Somali-American politician.
“I have come to know Mohamud Noor as someone with a quality all too rare in politics--he is a very good listener," Rybak said in a statement. "That is especially important in a district that spans so many diverse communities. Mohamud Noor is our best choice for bringing all our voices together -- in debates at the Capitol and in the community -- and getting us working together for the common good.”
Noor is currently executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota at the Brian Coyle Center. He was recently appointed to replace the late Hussein Samatar on the Minneapolis School Board.
Kahn has represented Minneapolis at the state Capitol since 1972. Her district includes the Cedar-Riverside area, as well as broad swaths of the eastern riverfront up to just north of Hennepin Avenue.
The endorsement is not Rybak's first appearance in the race. Just last month, he was a convener of the rescheduled Cedar-Riverside-area caucus that came in the wake of a fight at the Brian Coyle Center.
Rybak currently leads Generation Next, a group that aims to close the Twin Cities educational achievement gap. In his statement, he credited Noor with being a leader on education.
"He will quickly be a leader at the Capitol on critical issues like early childhood development, college access, and school funding and improvements," Rybak said.
Kahn and Rybak have had their political differences. In 2012, she penned an op-ed for MinnPost comparing the mayor to Nixon for his wavering stance on stadium subsidies. Rybak signed onto a letter in 2012 asking for Kahn to apologize for saying "someone at the city should be executed" for election day voting lines. In 2011, they were on opposide sides of a debate over Neighborhood Revitalization Program.
“I am deeply honored to have the support of R.T. Rybak," Noor said in a statement. "He has been an inspiration to me in my political career and I look forward to building on his progressive legacy in Minneapolis and Minnesota. I am committed to uniting student, immigrants and progressives to close the opportunity gaps that persist in our community."
The endorsing convention for the Senate district is slated for April 5 at DeLaSalle High School.