The DFL Party may be dominant at the polls in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. But voters in the state’s two largest cities who look to the DFL for a mayoral recommendation in this year’s city elections will look in vain. Last Saturday, the Minneapolis DFL convention followed the lead of its St. Paul counterpart three weeks earlier in failing to endorse a candidate for mayor.
The results likely please those who hold that DFL insiders have too much sway at City Hall in what are very nearly one-party towns — or those who back mayoral candidates who were not on top when balloting ceased at the two conventions. On Saturday, one such candidate was Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, who finished in third place on the one and only ballot, behind state Rep. Raymond Dehn and Council Member Jacob Frey.
In St. Paul on June 17, DFL convention delegates cast five ballots before giving up on the attempt to endorse a successor to Mayor Chris Coleman, who is stepping down after three terms to run for governor. Melvin Carter, a former City Council member and an adviser to Gov. Mark Dayton, was the convention’s top vote-getter in a four-way contest.
No DFL endorsements — plus no primary election — should serve to keep those mayoral contests large and lively through the Nov. 7 election. St. Paul and Minneapolis are both ranked-choice voting towns. The candidates who file for office next month will all appear on the November ballot. The only winnowing of the fields will be done by the voters themselves.
That’s a role that will give the good citizens of Minneapolis and St. Paul a chance to flex their citizenship muscles. These Twin Cities boast of a higher degree of civic engagement than exhibited in other U.S. urban areas. This year’s elections will put those bragging rights to the test. It’s not too soon for Minneapolis and St. Paul voters to start paying close attention to their cities’ campaigns.