DULUTH - Duluth politicos geared up for an unusual mayoral race this year when DFL Mayor Emily Larson found an opponent in former DFL state Sen. Roger Reinert, both who've been endorsed by the party in past elections.

But this week, before Saturday's Duluth DFL convention where delegates will choose a candidate to support, Reinert said in a social media video he won't be seeking any endorsements.

"Duluthians are just really ready for a change in how we do politics," he said Wednesday, of the nearly 1,000 conversations he said he's had since announcing his campaign in January. "I felt that honoring the nonpartisan nature of the office of mayor is a step in the right direction."

The move comes after doing some of the work to receive the endorsement, including sending letters to and holding a recent meet-and-greet with DFL delegates.

He declined to participate in a DFL candidate forum with Larson this week. While he once intended to seek the endorsement, Reinert said he changed his mind.

"I knew some would be happy, some would be confused and some might be angry," he said. "But it is 100 percent authentic to who I am."

Accusing Reinert of "shifty politics and playing political games," his decision illustrates the differences between the values and visions of the two campaigns, Larson's campaign manager, Seth Justice Loeffler-Kemp, said in a news release.

"Mayor Larson is proud to be a lifelong DFLer and shares Sen. Paul Wellstone's commitment that 'we all do better when we all do better,'" Loeffler-Kemp said. "We know that you can hold these values, work with others, and that it is virtuous governance to be consistent with your intentions to voters."

Reinert, also a former Duluth city councilor and Minnesota state representative who calls himself the "purple caucus guy," said he still considers himself a Democrat.

Duluth DFL delegate Joel Sipress, who has yet to decide on a candidate, said if all Reinert did was change his mind, there'd be no controversy.

Instead, he released a social media video "making a really big deal out of not seeking an endorsement," Sipress said. "I think that strikes a lot of people as disingenuous."

Citing other Duluth races where more center-leaning Democrats failed to secure an endorsement, University of Minnesota Duluth political science professor Cynthia Rugeley said DFLers in Duluth are more progressive than in other parts of the state.

Because Reinert is perceived as more centrist than Larson, "he probably wasn't going to get the endorsement," she said. "And there is [a] question about how much these endorsements do matter in citywide elections that are nonpartisan."