McLaughlin's Carville: I'm still here

Campaign mastermind stays onboard, divides duties

Little more than six weeks ago, Minneapolis mayoral candidate Peter McLaughlin pulled off a minor upset when he blocked the DFL endorsement of incumbent R.T. Rybak at the party's citywide convention. During the wild 10-hour Saturday session, it became clear that the presence of labor had much to do with McLaughlin's success, and that the man partially responsible for lining up those delegates--and many fencesitters--was new campaign manager Tony Scallon.

So it was somewhat puzzling when The Minneapolis Observer reported on June 15 that Scallon had been replaced by Darin Broton, a onetime aide to congressman Bill Luther who recently managed Teresa Daly's unsuccessful bid to unseat U.S. Rep. John Kline in the Second District last fall. The Observer's "Ballot Box"--an online newsletter that is an indispensible tool for anyone following the most local of Minneapolis political races this year--said Scallon would stay on as "chairman."

Scallon recently returned a phone call from Blotter--more than a week late--to clarify. "We hired a day-by-day manager," says the political veteran, adding that the campaign chores have been divvied up. "I do campaign literature and some other things. The young kids are really smart and do really good work, but Peter won't let me go. He won't let me retire."

There had already been turnover in the McLaughlin camp (Scallon himself was a replacement), and there were rumors of more-than-typical infighting. More than that, word around town was that McLaughlin, a former state lawmaker and current Hennepin County commissioner, wasn't particularly gifted at taking advice from any campaign staffers.

He'd do well to listen to Scallon, an affable guy who is also a schoolteacher. "I know the city by heart," the Longfellow resident says, without a hint of arrogance.

Scallon doesn't count how many campaigns he's worked on, he counts how many decades he's worked on campaigns. "I first started door-knocking in 1966, and really got into it in '68 with the [Eugene] McCarthy campaign," Scallon, who served on the Minneapolis City Council from 1980 to 1994, recalls. "I suppose I've helped 20 to 30 campaigns, including five of my own."

McLaughlin's bid was flailing, to say the least, before Scallon came on board and apparently lit a little fire under the once disorganized, detached candidate. "The campaign was a disaster when I walked in," Scallon admits. "I just told everybody we gotta go back to work. Nobody's getting fired, so let's just stop people from fighting with each other."

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