The race for Minneapolis mayor remains wide open, thanks in part to a pizza party that helped deadlock the DFL endorsing convention Saturday.
Former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew took the early lead but could never muster enough votes to cross the 60 percent threshold needed for endorsement. His only remaining opponent at the end of the night was City Council Member Betsy Hodges, who had formed a hasty alliance with fellow Council Member Gary Schiff in hopes of denying Andrew the victory.
In a final flurry of political maneuvering, the convention adjourned when Hodges’ campaign told its delegates to leave and fed them outside with pizza — leaving the auditorium without a quorum.
All six DFL candidates who began the day with endorsement dreams now remain in the race, as well as several others hoping to strike gold in the Nov. 5 ranked-choice voting election. No primary will precede the general election.
Andrew led on every ballot, eventually securing about 50 percent support in the fourth round of balloting, with about 1,100 total delegate votes, while Hodges took 44.3 percent.
Schiff, the third front-runner, withdrew from contention hours earlier when it became clear he would eventually fail to meet the threshold needed to continue. He said he would continue his campaign and threw his delegate support to Hodges, a move intended to block Andrew from winning endorsement. The alliance also cost him one of his most prized endorsements — the city’s firefighter union.
“My second choice is the candidate who I believe most shares my progressive values and the values of the people that I fought for the last 12 years on the City Council,” Schiff said.
Council Member Don Samuels, former Council President Jackie Cherryhomes and special education teacher Jim Thomas were all knocked out of contention after the first ballot because they received less than 10 percent of the vote. Schiff, Andrew and Hodges had pledged to abide by the party’s endorsement. Cherryhomes, Thomas and Samuels did not. An endorsed candidate would have a significant boost heading into the November election, gaining volunteers and the full backing of the party.
The state DFL chair made clear early Saturday that he wanted an endorsement. “It really weakens our party if we don’t have an endorsement in this mayoral race,” DFL chair Ken Martin said. “So I’m very hopeful that by the end of the day we’ll have an endorsed candidate for mayor.”
Other candidates are waiting in the wings. Attorney Cam Winton is running as an independent, software executive Stephanie Woodruff is running as a DFLer but not seeking the endorsement, and former alderman Dan Cohen said he will jump in if there is no endorsement.
Without an endorsement, more candidates would see a reason to get in — or stay in — the race.
“I was never focused on this environment,” Cherryhomes said after the first ballot. “I’ve always been focused on the broader election and moving toward November.”
Samuels said the results did not discourage him, adding that all of his races have been difficult.
“We expected something like this, and it’s clear that the vote is deadlocked … now it’s going to be appropriate for the ranked choice voting [in November] to express the will of the larger population of Minneapolitans.”
The first ballot, which gave Andrew 36 percent of the votes, followed a long morning of speeches and procedural debates.
Among the noteworthy moments was a speech by Hodges, who sought to draw a contrast between her tenure and that of Andrew and Cherryhomes.
“Will we go back to the 90s, when elected officials thought our city had so little to offer that people and businesses would only come here with a subsidy?” Hodges asked. “No, we will not.”
She said that one of her first visits to City Hall came in the late 1990s, to protest the development deal that became Block E. “It was infuriating,” she said. “Why were we acting like Minneapolis had to beg? Why were we acting like big corporate subsidies would save our city?”
Schiff drew applause when he said he also would stand up against subsidies.
“We need to get the debt of big sports facilities off the city taxpayers’ back,” Schiff said. “I will fight to [alleviate] the burden of the Vikings stadium, the Target Center, the convention center, for a reasonable solution.”
Former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, who oversaw the Block E deal, offered a veiled response during a speech supporting of Cherryhomes.
“I want to tell you with no embarrassment whatsoever that the investments of the past have laid the foundation for our future,” Sayles Belton said.
Cherryhomes added: “Much of what we did was excellent, was very very good. And I am very proud of it. Sure we made some mistakes, everyone makes some mistakes. But I have chosen to learn from those mistakes and to do better the next time.”
Later, during a question-and-answer period, Samuels offered an impassioned explanation of how he would fight for gun control.
“If I can stand up to a guy with a gun in his waistband in the north Jordan neighborhood, I can stand up to an NRA executive with a gun on his letterhead,” said Samuels, who has championed efforts to reduce violence during his years on the council.