Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said Tuesday that he's asking voters for a third term, but he's not ruling out a bid for governor in 2010.
"I love my job," Rybak said in an interview in his living room. "We're doing some great things for lots of people. This is the most fulfilling thing I've ever done. I honestly thank people every day for letting me be mayor of Minneapolis. I hope I'll get a little more time."
Rybak's announcement removes any uncertainty in City Hall, where some council members were ready to run for mayor in November if Rybak did not.
"We have been through a lot together," Rybak said, citing the 35W bridge collapse, state budget cuts and the economic slump after 9/11.
"We survived them all and came out better, and we are going to do that again."
The likelihood that Rybak would run again was signaled by his recent New Year's Eve mayoral fundraiser.
One early test for the mayor will be the city DFL endorsing convention on May 16. He has yet to gain party endorsement despite being elected twice in a heavily DFL city. He blocked the endorsement of incumbent Sharon Sayles Belton in 2001 in what was the first sign of a formidable candidacy. But he was denied endorsement in 2005 by Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, although Rybak went on to win handily.
Bob Miller, who directs the Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program, has mounted the most visible campaign against Rybak so far this year. He and Rybak will seek to elect DFL delegates at the March 3 party caucuses.
Rybak touted accomplishments in reducing crime, promoting business growth, improving transportation options and advancing educational opportunities for students. He said he'll elaborate next-term themes on those topics in coming weeks.
Miller has been emphasizing two main themes: That he can bring Minneapolis better financial management and that the city needs a mayor who heeds what residents say.
Rybak argues that he's instilled long-range budgeting and paid down debt in the wake of rating agencies downgrading the city's credit rating and despite significant state budget cuts. He's said that if anything his current revamping of the 2009 budget in the wake of further state cuts "gives me more energy for the job."
Miller criticized Rybak's $500,000 proposal for artistic water fountains to promote city water, and the city's loans for a convention software startup company that has faltered.
"In any election, people will pick one or two things out," Rybak said, citing the eight budgets he's delivered.
"This city has proven a lot to people who used to think it was out of control, ungovernable and past its prime," Rybak said.
He said he's worked to deliver tens of millions more in funding for neighborhood programs, and assured neighborhoods of a better role in shaping city services. Miller argues that Rybak and the council ignored most of the suggestions community activists made for his revamping of City Hall-neighborhood relations.
Rybak plans a public campaign launch at 9 a.m. on Feb. 7 at the Riverview Theater, 3800 42nd Av. S. He announced his plans to seek re-election with a web video on YouTube and on his Facebook page.
He's one of a bevy of DFLers who have expressed interest in running for governor in 2010, but he has yet to register a political committee for that.
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438