Timing is Everything

At the 11th hour, candidates learn to love shrink-wrap, use the city postage meter, and broadcast platitudes to no one.

AS ELECTION DAY closed in, Minneapolis's City Council incumbents reportedly came up with some creative ways to engage in last-minute political pitching. Last week in Steve Minn country, newspaper subscribers awoke to find their morning Strib shrink-wrapped in plastic emblazoned with "re-elect Minn." To the average 13th Warder, the ad was a shoulder-shrugger, given the Strib's endorsement of the Council's sole non-DFLer. But the placement raised a few eyebrows among Strib employees, who weighed in on the issue in "Morning Notes," the paper's in-house soapbox. "Samples of Cheerios, Head & Shoulders, Steve Minn...what's the difference?" one notester quipped, while another raged about the Minn-vertisement's erosion of the paper's "journalistic integrity." Still another, presumably in sales, recommended that staffers sell space on their jackets to mayoral candidates Sharon Sayles Belton and Barbara Carlson.

Meanwhile, a few blocks north, Council member Lisa McDonald used her city franking privilege to dangle home-improvement carrots in front of voters. When McDonald swung through the 10th Ward earlier this fall, one resident reports, rather than detailing her record, she touted Minneapolis Community Development Agency home-rehab loans. Small surprise, then, that five scant days before the election the voter got a letter on McDonald's city stationery touting the loans and containing the MCDA's phone number. As McDonald doubtless knows, the use of tax dollars for campaigning is a major no-no. Constituent relations are another matter.

Media maven Carlson went out--we assume at press time--with a static-jammed whimper. Her cohorts at the faux-subversive microstation Ballot Box Radio had promised rebel reportage on the mayoral race, coupled with the temporary return of REV 105's middle-of-the-road alternarock playlist. The week-long guerrilla broadcast, however, peppered the airwaves with vague political commentary, circumspect man-on-street vignettes, and Carlson's twice-daily spectral exhortations to get out the vote. Shock waves failed to reverberate throughout the voting and broadcast communities.

 
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