Chaotic DFL convention fails to endorse a mayoral candidate

The mayoral race heats up, plus Minneapolis shows New York how bike sharing is done right

When nearly 1,400 delegates gathered inside the Minneapolis Convention Center auditorium on Saturday morning, six candidates for mayor of Minneapolis were on the ballot for DFL endorsement: former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew; City Council Members Betsy Hodges, Gary Schiff, and Don Samuels; former City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes; and teacher Jim Thomas.

Over the next 15 hours, the delegates would vote — on paper — four times, winnowing down the contenders to Andrew and Hodges. In between the votes came the politicking: An alliance. A recount. A walkout. But by the end of the night, the delegates who had stuck it out left the auditorium with no endorsement.

The stakes going into the convention were high. With a race crowded by at least eight candidates — six of them DFLers vying for endorsement — party support could play kingmaker. Plus, frontrunners Hodges, Schiff, and Andrew all pledged to abide by the party's nod. In other words, if they didn't win it, they would drop out of the race.

While DFL chair Ken Martin strongly urged the delegates to make an endorsement, candidates had to clear a high bar in order to get there: 60 percent of delegate support.

Nearly five hours after they got to the Convention Center, the delegates finally cast their first ballot. When the results came back, Samuels, Cherryhomes, and Thomas had all received less than 10 percent of the vote, and were knocked out of contention.

The second ballot was down to Schiff, Hodges, and Andrew. But as the results trickled in, it became clear that Schiff wouldn't get the votes needed to advance past round three. So instead, he announced his withdrawal. He urged his delegates to back Hodges as a "second choice," while reassuring them that if the convention ended in a deadlock, he would continue his campaign.

As a result of the alliance, one of Schiff's early supporters, the Minneapolis Fire Department Union, withdrew its endorsement, and slapped on Mark Andrew stickers instead.

When the second ballot finally came in, it confirmed Schiff's fears. Of the 1,280 votes cast, 25 percent had been for him, 31.5 percent for Hodges, and 42 percent for Andrew.

By the time the delegates' third ballot votes were cast and counted, the night had crept past 9. But even after 12 hours at the Convention Center, only 4 percent of the delegates were voting for "no endorsement." The rest were split between Hodges and Andrew, 47 to 49 percent.

By the fourth ballot, Andrew inched ahead, 51 to 45 percent, but still short of the necessary 60.

Before he could gain more ground, though, all of Hodges's supporters walked out — a move that other candidates, including retiring Mayor R.T. Rybak, have pulled before. While they snacked on pizza courtesy of the Hodges campaign outside the Convention Center, back inside, the fifth ballot tested if there were still enough delegates to reach quorum and proceed.

Not long before midnight, the ballots came up short, and the day reached its seemingly foregone conclusion: There would be no endorsement.

Without a primary, this means a wide-open race until November. And more candidates could still jump in. The deadline to enter isn't until July.

Letter to New York

Hey, New York City,

You're doing this bike share thing wrong.

Take it from us. Our Nice Ride program launched back in June 2010, when the only other one like it in the country was in Denver, Colorado. We don't want to rub it in, but you're late to this party: 20 other cities and counties across the U.S. got bike share programs before you did.

On May 31, two days after they soft-launched, the Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz opined in a video that she could not "enter the mind of the totalitarians running this government of the city."

We're here to tell you: It doesn't have to be this way. Sure, there are still some Twin Cities drivers who grouse about bike lanes. But a lot of people use those neon cruisers. Our program hit 500,000 rides last summer. This year, it expanded by 24 stations. And now, when the bikes return to our streets in April, it's one of our favorite signs of spring.

So all of you New York cyclists: Tell the Dorothy Rabinowitzes of your city to shut up, already, and get back on the bike. Or just head to Bed-Stuy and do wheelies.

 
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