Phyllis Kahn downplays Rybak endorsing her DFL opponent, takes a couple shots at R.T.


R.T. Rybak recently gave his endorsement to Mohamud Noor, the Democrat running to oust fellow Democrat and longtime Minneapolis state representative Phyllis Kahn from office.

RELATED: Rybak demands Kahn apologize for saying "Someone at the city should be executed"

Rybak and Kahn have had their differences over the years. Still, the longtime DFL mayor of Minneapolis endorsing the opponent of a fellow DFLer who has represented Minneapolis for more than 40 years raised some eyebrows. But reached for comment today, Kahn downplayed the significance of Rybak's endorsement.

"I'll pitch my set of endorsements against [Noor's] any day, starting with Congressman Keith Ellison, Governor Mark Dayton, Abdi Warsame, former [Hennepin] County Attorney Tom Johnson, Peter McLaughlin, and go on to multiple unions," Kahn says. "R.T. is [Noor's] only major endorsement."

As for Rybak's motivations, Kahn says, "It just shows me that R.T. is really capable of carrying a personal grudge way beyond what might be in the best interests of the state, city, and the cause he's working for." (Kahn was referring to Rybak's job as executive director of the education nonprofit Generation Next.)

"I'm a legislator serving on the Way and Means Committee, which has no freshman legislators," Kahn says. "It's a real mistake to try and get rid of that type of influence in the state legislature."

Kahn also questioned Rybak's involvement in Cedar-Riverside DFL caucus held last month.

"I'm a little bothered that R.T. was chosen as one of the allegedly neutral people to preside over that convention," she says. "I guess he hadn't announced his endorsement yet, but I can't believe he hadn't already made up his mind. When he lists his reasons [for endorsing Noor], that's kind of a basic dishonesty."

On the topic of why he endorsed Noor, Rybak, in a statement, says, "I am supporting Mohamud Noor because I have come to know him as someone with a fresh perspective and inclusive vision who will build strong partnerships at the State Capitol and in our neighborhoods."

"I have come to know Mohamud Noor as someone with a quality all too rare in politics -- he is a very good listener," Rybak continues. "That is especially important in a district that spans so many diverse communities."

"Mohamud Noor is our best choice for bringing all our voices together -- in debates at the Capitol and in the community -- and getting us working together for the common good," he says.

But though she only won the support of 36 percent of delegates at the aforementioned March convention, Kahn said she intends to win her party's endorsement when it's decided on April 5.

"I'm certainly hoping that people will see the points I've been making and I will get the endorsement," she says.

And if she doesn't?

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"I have never run against an endorsed candidate and I don't intend to," Kahn says. "Obviously if there is no endorsement that wouldn't be a deterrent to me running."

From a statewide political perspective, Kahn argues it's in the best interests of the DFL to avoid a potentially bruising primary.

"Speaking from a strong desire to get Mark Dayton reelected and keep DFL control of the legislature, the attention that a contested primary would bring would be detrimental," Kahn says.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]