Spotted: Campaign sign conflict

At the southeast corner of East 42nd Street and Fourth Avenue South in Minneapolis, there's a faded, gray one-level house with a couple campaign lawns signs in the yard. Nothing too unusual--the citywide election cycle is upon us and heating up before primary season in September. But in this case, the signs were for two competitors for the city's Eighth Ward seat, Dennis Tifft and Jeff Hayden.

The newly redistricted ward is racially and economically mixed, and is split--physically and metaphorically--by I-35. And there's no shortage of candidates; 10 have officially filed with the city to run. After a somewhat fractious DFL ward convention this spring, where no candidate was endorsed, it became clear that support among the top candidates was rather absolute, if not actually black and white.

Tifft is an openly gay white man, who is spending much of his own money to win--and has unfortunately adopted "Up, Up and Away," as his unofficial campaign theme song to go with his "Lift with Tifft" slogan. Tifft, who works for Park Nicollet Health Services, has his grassroots bona fides, and claims I-35 expansion and airport noise as two of his many issues.

Hayden is a black man who is somewhat of a political insider, having worked as an aide to current Ninth Ward council member Gary Schiff. He's come up almost exclusively through activist politics, and has received the endorsements of Schiff and former Minneapolis mayors Don Fraser and Sharon Sayles Belton. Affordable housing and mass transit are two main issues of many that Hayden lists on his web site.

In other words, as far as Minneapolis city council candidates go, they are a study in contrasts. And Hayden, with much African American support on the east side of the highway, and Tifft, with what appears to be a wealthier, whiter base, are clearly different candidates for different people. But then again, this is still by and large the same Eighth Ward that elected Sayles Belton to the council nearly two decades ago, and after her Brian Herron (black), and after him Robert Lilligren (openly gay).

All predictions aside, though: What kind of household boasts signs for both Hayden and Tifft?

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