Bush meat: Kelly clobbered in St. Paul

class=img_thumbleft>The polls were right. As had been forecast for weeks, incumbent St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly was


yesterday, 69 to 31 percent. He received just 18,203 votes, compared with 40,601 for challenger Chris Coleman. It was the widest margin of defeat ever suffered by an incumbent mayor in St. Paul. The Coleman victory also ends 16 years of futility for DFL-endorsed mayoral candidates in the city.

National politics undoubtedly played a central role in the contest. The candidates were barely distinguishable in their ideological track records, but Kelly enraged fellow Democrats by endorsing the re-election of President Bush last year. The President garnered support from just 26 percent of St. Paul voters in the 2004 contest.

Consequentially the normally sleepy municipal race attracted interest from Democrats across the country. Sen. John Kerry showed up to stump for Coleman, as did fellow 2004 presidential contender Gen. Wesley Clark. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, frequently tabbed as a possible 2008 presidential challenger, also made an appearance on the Hustings. And Coleman was the only mayoral contender in the country to receive an endorsement from the liberal advocacy group

Kelly attempted to counter by bringing in his own heavyweights, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and former New York Mayor Ed Koch, to tout his candidacy and raise cash.

Barely 30 minutes after the polls closed last night, Kelly was giving his concession speech. Afterwards he gamely worked his way through the thin crowd of supporters at his campaign headquarters, shaking hands and giving hugs. "Don't feel bad, don't feel bad," he repeatedly told his backers. "I don't."

But some of his supporters were less stoic. A middle-aged woman in a pink striped shirt grabbed Ryan Kelly, the mayor's son and campaign manager, and pretty accurately summed up the mood. "Let's go to Al & Alma's and rent a boat," she pleaded.

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