Minneapolis DFLers will gather on Saturday morning to consider endorsing a candidate in the mayoral contest. The field of at least six credible challengers will make it difficult for anyone to reach the 60 percent threshold required for party backing.
But the rules for the convention will aggressively winnow the field down. After the first ballot any candidate that doesn’t have support from at least 10 percent of voting delegates will be dropped. On the second ballot that threshold rises to 20 percent. Following the third ballot only the top two candidates will remain viable. Finally, after the fifth ballot, if no candidate has been endorsed, the convention can be adjourned by a simple majority vote.
“[The rules] are aggressive to give the opportunity for endorsement,” said Rick Stafford, a veteran DFL activist who is chairing the convention.
The six challengers are former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew, former city council president Jackie Cherryhomes, city council members Betsy Hodges, Don Samuels and Gary Schiff and school teacher Jim Thomas.
Andrew is widely thought to be the frontrunner. He has the backing of the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council, the Stonewall DFL caucus, DFL rainmakers Sam and Sylvia Kaplan, former House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and state Reps. Phyllis Kahn and Jim Davnie.
Hodges also has an impressive list of endorsements. She’s backed by the Service Employees International Union, WomenWinning, the Sierra Club, state Sen. Scott Dibble and state Reps. Frank Hornstein, Jean Wagenius and Susan Allen.
Schiff is supported by the Minneapolis Firefighters Union Local 82. Cherryhomes has been endorsed by former Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton.
Two potentially influential groups that haven’t weighed in on the contest: the AFSCME Council 5 and TakeAction Minnesota.
Minneapolis DFLers have failed to endorse a candidate for mayor in two of the last three election cycles. In 2001, R.T. Rybak denied Sayles-Belton the endorsement. Four years later the convention deadlocked between support for Rybak and Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. Rybak was the DFL-endorsed candidate in 2009.
Only two candidates — Schiff and Andrew — have committed to dropping out of the race if someone else is endorsed. Stafford believes no candidate is likely to reach the 60 percent threshold required for endorsement this time around as well. “I think it’s highly unlikely. There’s still a possibility,” he said. “I have been proven wrong before.”