(This is the first in a weekly series of memos from The UpTake about the 2013 Minneapolis Mayoral Election. Please send comments, questions or story tips to Executive Editor Nick Coleman: email@example.com)
Story for The UpTake by Kathyrn Nelson
From a WhoZat? popularity poll to a debate about airport noise and vacuum cleaners and a bizarre campaign video gone viral, the last few weeks have proven to be challenging for voters struggling to choose a favorite among the giant group of 35 candidates running for Minneapolis mayor. The extensive Ranked Choice Vote ballot will feature candidates from the Minneapolis City Council and Planning Commission as well as small business owners, an attorney and (aaarghhh!) a self-proclaimed pirate. The overwhelmingly large cohort of contenders includes “Captain Jack Sparrow,” who does, in fact, wear swashbuckling attire to political events.
More traditional landlubbers who are given more likely odds of succeeding outgoing Mayor R.T. Rybak include
DFLers Mark Andrew, Jackie Cherryhomes, Betsy Hodges and Don Samuels, independents Dan Cohen and Cam Winton, and Independence Party candidate Stephanie Woodruff.
In addition to those seven and the pirate, there are 27 more candidates including members of the Socialist and Communist Parties. (A full list of mayoral candidates can be found here). In early September, Hennepin County released a report of each candidate’s campaign finances, making it a bit easier to tell who was leading –- financially, anyway -– in the race. Dan Cohen held the highest cash balance of about $109,000 after spending more than $176,000 on advertising, social media consulting and canvassing work. Coming in a close second was Mark Andrew with $69,000 in cash on hand after spending $203,000. In last place was Stephanie Woodruff with a balance of $3,052.
In the last week, candidates have been busy pushing their platforms at several public forums and press conferences. Tonight, most of the leading candidates are expected to participate in an education debate that was live-streamed by the UpTake.
Last Monday, Winton scheduled a news conference to discuss new flight routes over southwest Minneapolis. In his press release, the Winton campaign stated he would demonstrate “the aural impact of the proposed flight routes” with the help of a vacuum cleaner. But before laying out his “win-win” plan for homeowners and airport users, Winton was asked an off-topic question concerning his campaign finances and attacked DFLer Andrew, calling his campaign “bought and sold by every union in town.”
It was unclear if Winton ever did use his vacuum during the event.
Another campaign drew public attention only when the candidate emerged, like the Creature From The Black Lagoon, half naked from a Minneapolis lake, scaring the locals and shouting about not going to strip clubs (anymore) if he wins the election. That’s him, Jeff Wagner, in the video above. We are waiting to see if all 34 other candidates agree to pledge not to visit strip clubs.
Perhaps it is no wonder that a Star Tribune poll found no clear frontrunner in the race. In the newspaper’s poll, Cohen and Samuels came in as the first choice for 16 percent of voters, while another 16 percent said they were “not sure” who they would vote for. Hodges came in third (or fourth, counting the “not sures”) with 14 percent.
(You may reach Kathryn Nelson at: firstname.lastname@example.org)