By Jesse Marx
By Chris Parker
By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
Norm's out. Countless others are in--maybe. Who will be the next mayor of St. Paul? The first quadrennial City Pages mayoral pop quiz of insignificant questions, baffling insights, and knee-slapping gaffes will help voters sift through the cast of pretenders.
Admit it. You like Norm Coleman. Sure, you don't trust him, and the reasons are legion: the jump from the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party to the Republican camp in 1996; the Music Man aesthetic of his 1998 gubernatorial bid; the fact that he has been a Minnesota state chair or co-chair for the presidential campaigns of both a Bubba and Dubya. Not to mention the sheer chutzpah of hosting a KSTP-AM (1500) radio show called "Norm From St. Paul," even though we über-provincial Minnesotans know full well that he's really from Brooklyn.
Still, there is a certain poor-man's-Kennedy charisma that Coleman has sprinkled on us denizens of St. Paul over the last few years. While Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton exists as some sort of governing-by-proxy abstraction, Norm from St. Paul has a knack for appearing everywhere without ever falling on his sword when things go awry. Like Mayor Quimby on The Simpsons, he can wheedle a little PR boost from even the most dire situations: "I was nev-ah hee-yah. Vote Quimby." Who else would take a failed gubernatorial bid and baldly repackage it into a push for a new baseball stadium? Sure, maybe Norm's hands are a little greasy, but at least they're his hands.
So, though it's hard to say that we're gonna miss Norm while he sits out the upcoming mayoral race in St. Paul (after all, a potential Norm-Jesse II dustup is only a year away), the unspectacular list of earnest candidates vying for city hall has left us wanting for a little more...insincerity. Or ego. Or star power. Or something. We realize that outside of maybe 1,000 or so civic do-gooders in our capital city, nobody is really fired up about billboards along University Avenue, the University of St. Thomas campus expansion, or the seemingly endless parade of corporations slopping at the public downtown real estate trough.
That's why City Pages has taken great pains to research the issues, candidates, and questions that will galvanize the public. Like sex. And alcohol. And pro wrestling. After consulting with highly paid political advisers, citizen activists from every nook of the city, and a focus group of topless dancers, City Pages has put together the first-ever mayoral pop quiz. After whittling down an initial, scientifically calibrated pool of questions from 273 to 29, we contacted each of the mayoral hopefuls via telephone and sprang nine randomly chosen brainteasers on them, as well as three that every candidate was asked, and some requisite personal-background stuff. A handful of responses were eliminated in the interest of space. And, frankly, in the interest of interest.
In these pages we showcase the thoughts of the eight hopeful public servants we expect will declare their candidacy, seven DFLers and one independent. We also posed our questions to Republican Larry Dandrea, who, immediately after taking the quiz, concluded that he will not jump into the race. We can only speculate whether there's any cause-and-effect relationship.
Unfortunately, because of the plethora of potential candidates, we had to use our editorial discretion to eliminate a few folks we'd like to see make a race for the prize. Therefore we apologize in advance to Dino Guerin and Stephen Bosacker. Please, take no offense, guys. It's worth noting that the winning candidate will receive, at no cost, a T-shirt that reads, "I ran for mayor of St. Paul and all I got was a bunch of smart-alecky questions from City Pages reporters." Losers can get the shirt for $9.99 worth of Camel Cash.
So, without further ado, we finally present "The City Pages St. Paul Mayoral Quiz-o-Rama."
Born August 9, 1958 in St. Peter. Graduated Macalester College, 1981; University of Minnesota Law School, 1985. Served as St. Paul City Council member from 1988 to 1994. Joined Kennedy & Graven law firm in 1994. Married to Karen Sletten; two children.
Political Party: DFL
Official Web Site:
1. The Hmong are from what part of China?
"Actually, is this a trick question? They're from Laos."
2. In case of nuclear attack, how do you plan to save St. Paul?
"I would say I'd bring them all down to the caves down by the river where they grow mushrooms--or used to grow mushrooms. Plenty to eat in those caves. Lots of things growing on the walls down there."
3. On the "Wall of Fame" at the Lexington Restaurant, Don Ryan is honored with a picture. To his left is a notable, completely unacknowledged. Is it:
a) Sid Hartman?
b) Garrison Keillor?
c) Fran Tarkenton?
d) Howard Cosell?
"I was just in there the other day for lunch. [Don Riley]'s a former sports writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. I used to date his daughter."
CP: [Interrupts Long's reverie to explain that the picture is of Don R-Y-A-N, not Don R-I-L-E-Y.]
Long: "Fran Tarkenton."
Bonus followup question: Who is Don Ryan?
"I don't know who Don Ryan is. I had my heart set on Don Riley. I thought I was gonna really impress you."