If you watched the most recent episode of the Wedge LIVE podcast, you know that I am seriously relieved by last week’s election results. Mayor Frey’s rich friends at All of Mpls poured at least a million dollars into an independent expenditure campaign. The Star Tribune editorial board made some questionable endorsements that have further eroded the institution’s credibility. These things weren’t enough to save the Frey-aligned council majority.
Minneapolis said no to fear. Crime is trending down, but still elevated and at the top of mind for many. It made sense that All of Mpls and their slate would re-run their successful 2021 fear campaign. Voters didn’t fall for the lie that progressive wins in Wards 7 and 12 would lead to the elimination of police. In addition to pledging support for a more comprehensive public safety system, incoming progressive city council members Katie Cashman and Aurin Chowdhury repeatedly committed to funding MPD at the level required to get back to the officer minimum.
Ward 5 said no to Victor Martinez, who saw his path to victory over Jeremiah Ellison to be non-stop crime demagoguery (and some alleged DFL process cheating) to cover for the fact he’s an anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ Trumper.
Here in the greater Wedge metro area, Bruce Dachis’ crime-themed campaign, complete with a visit to right wing talk radio, was rejected by as wide a margin as you’d expect in Ward 10.
The city said yes to progressivism. Candidates with positive agendas, who embraced change, beat opponents trying to hold the line. Cashman’s win is UNPRECEDENTED IN OUR LIFETIMES. I’m tempted to call it MIRACULOUS. The idea of Ward 7 as a progressive council seat after 26 years of Lisa Goodman is BEYOND COMPREHENSION(!!!). I may be overselling it a little, but it’s a really big deal.
The result in Ward 12 is also significant. The seat has gone from being a swing vote to solidly on the left. The only bright spot for Mayor Frey’s All of Mpls slate was Andrea Jenkins’ slim reelection in Ward 8 — with her closing message amounting to: “Who? Me? A moderate?”
While I agree you shouldn’t call people names they don’t want to be called, this publication is focused almost exclusively on city politics — so how can I not apply the dictionary definition of “conservative” when describing our political spectrum? Scott Graham in Ward 7 was against transportation alternatives on Hennepin Ave; he was against the nationally-heralded 2040 Plan for housing; he read from mayoral talking points to explain why protections for rideshare workers aren’t workable; he used his opening remarks at a debate to accuse Cashman of being connected to socialists; and he touted that he was eager to cut the city’s budget. In Ward 12, Luther Ranheim held himself up as the candidate with no “ideological agenda” who wanted to get “back to the basics” and defund the city’s bike infrastructure. It turns out voters expect more from leaders than just the basics.
And while I wouldn’t say Ward 13 took a progressive turn by reelecting Linea Palmisano, I interpret the combined results in 7, 12, and 13 as a rejection of transportation NIMBYism. Palmisano’s challenger Kate Mortenson had made the backlash against the new Bryant Avenue a central message of her campaign.
VIDEO EDITORIAL: We said no to rich old white guys buying another election. We also said no to Scott Graham calling out “socialists! defunding! abolishing!” over and over again. And don’t forget that in Ward 10 we said no to equating a Muslim council member who expresses solidarity with Palestinians living through unimaginable death and destruction to “supporting the leadership of Hamas.”
Here’s an odd thing to have to say about Minneapolis politics: In this election, in the year 2023, we said no to the red scare. That weirdly mid-20th century idea of purging socialists from our politics didn’t end up being a winner. The truth is, if you haven’t made common cause with a socialist in Minneapolis recently, then I guess you haven’t been involved in any sort of activism to make the city a better place. Socialists are everywhere. Try to co-exist.
After being scarred by the fear politics of the last several years, and saddened to watch my community warped into something I didn’t recognize, I was deeply gratified to see us snap out of it last week. But I hope these election results can translate into a better kind of governing for the new progressive majority. All options must be on the table, including radical ideas like compromise. Maybe it’s still possible to grind out big legislative victories with 11 or 12 votes? OK, maybe 9? Tell the mayor he can keep his veto pen in his pocket.