St. Paul mayoral race: Coleman secures Progressive Minnesota endorsement

Chris Coleman narrowly managed to capture the endorsement of Progressive Minnesota this evening. The DFL standard-bearer garnered 38 votes on the first ballot, two more than needed to hit the required 60 percent threshold.

Green Party candidate Elizabeth Dickinson ran a strong second, capturing support from 20 PM members. Current St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly did not seek the organization's backing. (Two people present voted for no endorsement.)

Coleman faced considerable skepticism from PM members about his somewhat dodgy track record on progressive issues. In particular people expressed disgust at the former city council member's decision to back Kelly four years ago over DFL endorsee Jay Benanav.

Attendees also attacked Coleman's voting record. It was noted that he failed to uphold the city's living wage ordinance when Marshall Fields sought a city subsidy to remodel its downtown St. Paul store in 2001. PM members also voiced unease about Coleman's lack of enthusiasm for past successful campaigns run by the organization, such as the 1999 St. Paul stadium referendum. The concerns of many were summed up by one person who stated, "He's a great guy, but he's not a progressive Minnesotan."

Ultimately, however, pragmatism won out over ideological purity. Many participants worried that Dickinson lacked the experience and fundraising ability to run a competitive campaign.

The PM endorsement means that Coleman will have pretty much the full might of the city's leftist organizations behind his campaign. (Practically every labor union has already endorsed his candidacy.) PM has compiled an impressive track record of winning races at both the local and state level in recent years. The organization was a key factor in the DFL picking up 13 state house seats in last fall's elections.

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