1.) DFL city councilor Betsy Hodges has apparently won the Minneapolis mayoral election, collecting 36 percent of the vote, the Star Tribune reports. Hodges’ main challenger, former Hennepin County Board member Mark Andrew, won about 25 percent of the vote, and conceded to Hodges Tuesday night. Many thought the election could face complications due to the vast, 35-candidate field, and the first use of ranked-choice voting in a close election. The race had divided many of the city’s prominent Democrats. House Speaker Paul Thissen had endorsed Andrew, as did his most recent DFL predecessor in that post, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, while Hodges had received endorsements from several of the more progressive Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, who served as her campaign co-chair.
2.) State Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, announced on Tuesday that she had decided against running in the 1st Congressional District. Nelson was encouraged by local and national Republican activists to run against DFL U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who has proven a difficult incumbent to oust despite the district’s Republican-leaning demographics. Nelson said she preferred to focus on serving her legislative district for now, but did not rule out a future bid for Congress. Three Republicans are already declared in that race: Rep. Mike Benson, R-Rochester, Army Reserves Command Sgt. Major Aaron Miller and activist Jim Hagedorn, but recent fundraising disclosures found Walz had a significant lead in cash on hand. Nelson was not ready to endorse one of the GOP candidates as of Tuesday, but said she thinks the seat is “winnable” for Republicans despite Walz’s popularity.
3.) As Charley Shaw reports in our sister publication Finance & Commerce, the city of Minneapolis’s push for a $40 million renovation of Nicollet Mall may be headed for tough sledding at the Capitol. That’s because the House Capital Investment Committee’s recent bonding tour visit appears to have left House Capital Investment Committee Chair Alice Hausman feeling cool toward the city’s $25 million request to cover most of the cost. “[Mayor R.T. Rybak] showed us a pothole in the street,” Hausman said afterward. “But frankly there are potholes everywhere [in the state]. We don’t do that. I have to understand it well enough to sell it to other legislators. I think I still have a lot of work to do on that.”
Hausman’s view of the project carries a lot of weight, since she is charged with assembling a 2014 capital investment bill worth roughly $850 million, culled from some $2.8 billion in project requests. But the Nicollet Mall upgrade also has a powerful champion at the Capitol in Gov. Mark Dayton, who has referred to the mall as “Minnesota’s Main Street.” Last year Dayton included $20 million for the project in his own bonding proposal. Ultimately the state Senate balked at doing a comprehensive bonding bill in 2013, and the Legislature opted to pass a more limited $156 million package focused mainly on renovations to the Capitol building.
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Former DFL legislator Nora Slawik won the office of Mayor of Maplewood yesterday, defeating former Mayor Diana Longrie handily, the Pioneer Press reports. Slawik received 67 percent of the vote en route to victory; she served seven terms representing that area in the state House, and chose to retire in 2012, citing personal reasons.
- Independent lobbyist Patrick Sexton has signed on to advocate for the Southeast Minnesota Association of Realtors; he is currently that trade organization’s only lobbyist on retainer.
- The Campaign Fund of Invest in Tomorrow – Owatonna has registered with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. The new political fund lists Julie Rethemeier as its chair; Rethemeier is currently public affairs director at Federated Insurance, according to her LinkedIn page.