Election 2013, Volume 1, Issue 1: THE CLOWN CAR
I moved from Minneapolis to St. Paul last year, so I won't actually get to vote in this year's Minneapolis mayoral election. Nonetheless, (1) I am reluctant to give up my TINY YET POTENT slice of political influence, and (2) this year's Minneapolis mayoral race is just too entertaining not to write about.
As you know, Bob, Minneapolis has Instant Runoff for city elections (except for school board elections, which are under state legislative control). You're allowed to list your top three candidates -- oh, here, I'll link you to the explanation from the people who think it's awesome.
Minneapolis voted this way four years ago, but four years ago, it was R.T. vs. who even cares, R.T. was going to win, which he did, handily, I think in the very first round. (There were eleven candidates total.) This year, R.T. is retiring. The DFL didn't endorse anybody. And there are
thirty candidates thirty-five candidates on the ballot.
In Minneapolis races in the past, you only get to rank your top three, which simplifies things a bit -- although, I just hunted down the relevant bit of the city charter, and in fact the requirement is that you be permitted to rank at least your top three. I looked up the charter because what I really wanted to know was this: let's say you've fully processed all the ballots, tossing out and re-assigning the votes for Captain Jack Sparrow (you think I'm kidding? I'm not kidding) and John Charles Wilson the Lauraist Communist (not kidding about that one, either), and the top candidate only has 45% of the vote. One of the benefits of IR is supposed to be that the winner will always have a majority, but what if the winner doesn't have a majority? According to the city charter, the top-vote-getter then wins. They could probably solve this by letting people rank their top five. Or their top ten. (It's permitted in the charter.) They haven't said they're doing this, though, so I'm going to predict right now that (a) they're just going to have people rank their top three, and (b) the winner is going to win with a plurality, not a majority.
I'll note that the way it used to work was that Minneapolis held a primary, and the top two advanced to the general election, and thus we always had a Mayor elected with an actual majority, if that's something that you view is important.
The ballot chaos could have been reduced a bit if they'd set a somewhat more challenging set of requirements for ballot access. For instance, if mayoral candidates had been required to get some reasonable number of signatures (the proposal I heard in a Star Trib editorial was that they should have had to gather 5% of the number of votes in the last election -- there were 46,000 votes, according to my quickly-googled data, so that would be 2,300 signatures). Or people could be required to either pay some sizable fee ($1000, say) OR get signatures. Really, ANYTHING would have been an improvement: under current rules, $20 gets you on the ballot. I think you also need a valid Minneapolis address and you have to be 18. It is a ridiculously low bar to clear, and I'm actually a little surprised that only thirty-five candidates resulted.
Even if they had created a higher bar to clear -- let's say it was just Mark Andrew, Jackie Cherryhomes, Bob Fine, Betsy Hodges, and Don Samuels (and I'll note that does not include all the candidates who are "serious," who have actual campaigns, endorsements from people you've heard of, political experience, and the ability to get on the ballot) -- with only three slots to rank candidates, it would be really easy NOT to hit the 50%+1 vote line required for a majority.
We'll see. It's going to be really interesting.
Wikipedia, helpfully enough, has a page with the full list of candidates and links to some of the coverage about them. Which almost makes me irrelevant, but I'm sure you'll all be tuning in for the wit and snark, not to mention the candidates popping up to complain about how I'm not treating them seriously. (CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW. Who the hell looks at THAT name and says, "oh yeah, THAT'S WHO I WANT RUNNING MY CITY.") They're allowed to have a little parenthetical statement next to their name, identifying their party, which some of them are using to push for their pet issue (and in fact there are people running who are suggesting that everyone should use their first vote or two to vote for someone with the pet issue they particularly want attention drawn to, which would be a slightly less ridiculous idea if people were allowed to rank all thirty-five (which is Captain Jack Sparrow's pet issue, apparently).
THE LIST. Cut for length.
Mark V. Anderson (Simplify Government)
Merrill Anderson (Jobs & Justice)
Mark Andrew (DFL), former Hennepin County Commissioner
Neal Baxter (Independent)
Troy Benjegerdes (Local Energy/Food)
Alicia K. Bennett (DFL)
Edmund Bernard Bruyere (Legacy — Next Generation)
Bob "Again" Carney Jr (Demand Transit Revolution)
Jackie Cherryhomes (DFL), former City Council President, lobbyist
Christopher Clark (Libertarian)
Dan Cohen (Independent), former City Councilmember, Ward 7
James Everett (Green)
Bob Fine (DFL)]
Cyd Gorman (Police Reform)
Mike Gould (DFL)
Kurtis W. Hanna (Pirate)
John Leslie Hartwig (Independent)
Betsy Hodges (DFL), City Councilmember, Ward 13
Gregg A. Iverson (DFL)
Bill Kahn (Last Minneapolis Mayor)
Jaymie Kelly (Stop Foreclosures Now)
Tony Lane (Socialist)
Doug Mann (Green)
Abdul M. Rahaman "The Rock" (We the People...)
Joshua Rea (End Homelessness Now)
Don Samuels (DFL), City Councilmember, Ward 5
Ole Savior (Republican)
Captain Jack Sparrow (Count All Rankings)
James "Jimmy" L. Stroud, Jr. (The People's Choice)
Jeffrey Alan Wagner (DFL)
John Charles Wilson (Lauraist Communist)
Cam Winton (Independent responsible inclusive), attorney
Stephanie Woodruff (DFL), software executive and Citizen Member of Minneapolis Audit Committee
Rahn V. Workcuff (Independence)
Christopher Robin Zimmerman (Libertarian)
So, a couple of thoughts off the top of my head.
1. You would have expected that Captain Jack Sparrow would be the one from the "Pirate" party, but you'd have been wrong.
2. Jackie Cherryhomes is made of solid evil. If you take nothing else from my posts, don't vote for her, and warn your friends not to vote for her. It's been long enough that there are going to be a decent chunk of Minneapolis residents that might not know a lot about her other than, she's obviously a legit candidate (former City Councillor!) and she's DFL and a woman, so cool, right? Wrong. SOLID EVIL. Don't be fooled.
3. The lone Republican on the ballot is Ole Savior. That's hilarious. He's one of those people who runs for some sort of office every single election cycle; it'll be interesting to see how he does this time around. He won't win, but neither would a well-established Republican with donors and endorsements and all the rest. This is not a town where Republicans win races. There are Republicans who live here, though, and I'm curious whether they'll generally vote for Ole (because hey, it says Republican after his name!) or if they'll shoot for someone who's a lesser evil with political experience. (Of course, with IR, they could do both! but my point here is that savvy Republicans wouldn't want Ole as Mayor anyway, because he may say he's a Republican but he has no political experience other than endlessly running for office. His vote tally will show how many Republicans in this town look at nothing other than the label.)
4. I wonder if they're going to be able to get all these people on one ballot, or if they'll have to go to multiple pages?
I'll be back another day with analysis and snark. (Actually, I'll probably be back a whole lot of days, because trying to do all thirty-five in one go is a recipe for burnout.)
By the way, I realized semi-recently that I have this substantial fan base of my political posts....who don't realize that I am also a fiction author. YES! I write science fiction and fantasy, which you can find at Amazon.com, BN.com, and at a bookstore near you, if you happen to live in the Twin Cities, because my print novels are carried by both Uncle Hugo's and Dreamhaven. If you're looking for an inexpensive sampler of my work, you could check out one of my short story collections, Comrade Grandmother and Other Stories or Gift of the Winter King and Other Stories. Probably my most politically-oriented fiction are the Seastead stories I've written in the last year; the first of them is available FREE online here, and two more were published in F&SF. The three published short stories actually form the first half of a novel, which I completed a while ago and have been trying to shop around with no particular luck so far. MAYBE one of those fans of my political posts is an editor or an agent who wants to have a look? Let me know!
Election 2013 Index of Posts.