After five grueling hours of politicking in a north Minneapolis gymnasium, DFLers handed out no endorsement in the race to fill one of three open seats on the City Council.
Four candidates were vying for the party's nod in the Fifth Ward, which covers the southern half of the city's North Side. Attorney Ian Alexander came within less than a percentage point of the 60 percent threshold needed to win, but failed to pick up more momentum. Delegates voted to adjourn after the fifth ballot did not produce a winner.
The DFL endorsement can have a big impact in races without an incumbent, and the Fifth Ward will be the only open seat this November without an endorsed candidate. All four candidates plan to continue in the race.
The current occupant, Council Member Don Samuels, is running for mayor after 10 years on the council.
Placing behind Alexander was Brett Buckner, a political consultant who eventually won more than 35 percent of the vote. Because the convention opted to use ranked choice voting — it was the first to do so — challengers Blong Yang and Ken Foxworth were dropped after the first ballot.
"Now we all get to go to November," Buckner said. "It's going to be a contentious fight. This is an open seat that's been held for 10 years. And there's just a touch of unreadiness on this one."
Alexander, a former Republican, said his campaign has been raising a lot of money and plans to spend it.
"I wish we had an endorsement because it would have given us the opportunity to have spent this time coalescing around a number of ideas on the North Side," Alexander said.
The convention was the first to use ranked choice voting in the first round, which asks voters to rank the candidates in order of preference. The two candidates with the most first-choice votes move forward, picking up any second-choice votes from those who supported the other candidates. Ranked choice voting will be used in the November election and could be used when the DFL meets to endorse for mayor in June.
Yang was eliminated after the first round, after winning 25 of 186 total votes. In a normal convention, he would have had another opportunity to sway delegates.
"I thought it was a ridiculous process," Yang said. "I thought most of the body didn't really understand what it was."
Saturday's event was the last DFL endorsing event before the citywide convention. In all, three wards did not endorse — one has a Green Party incumbent — three endorsed a challenger over an incumbent, two endorsed candidates for open seats, and five endorsed incumbents.