A contentious, 12-hour convention Saturday failed to endorse a DFL candidate for Mayor of Minneapolis, increasing the significance of the role that Ranked Choice Voting will play in the November 5 election and giving a crowded field of candidates more room for maneuver. More than 1,400 delegates attended the all-day convention which — like all but one of the previous three such events — did not succeed at giving the party’s endorsement to one candidate. The convention dissipated in confusion after four ballots when supporters of progressive candidate Betsy Hodges left the Minneapolis Convention Center, joined by supporters of fellow progressive candidate Gary Schiff. Schiff had withdrawn his name from contention after the second ballot and urged his supporters to join forces with Hodges. The joint tactics by the two City Council members were aimed at blocking an endorsement for former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew, who was the favorite of many “old-guard” DFLers and came the closest to winning the 60-percent support necessary for endorsement.
On the fourth ballot, Andrew had about half of the votes, with Hodges trailing behind, at 44 percent. It seemed like a long slog to endorsing Andrew might be under way. But at that point, Hodges and her supporters decamped, supposedly invited to eat pizza outside the convention center, never to return. Their walkout echoed a 2001 walkout led by R.T. Rybak, who blocked an endorsement for incumbent Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton and went on to win three terms as mayor (Rybak is not seeking re-election this year).
The walkout also appeared to deprive the convention of a quorum, frustrating the Andrew campaign’s efforts to push towards endorsement and causing bitter Andrew supporters to attack the Hodges-Schiff faction which, in combination, outnumbered the Andrew forces. On the second ballot of the day, Hodges and Schiff had a combined 56 percent of the delegate strength, while Andrew had 42 percent. Three other candidates — Don Samuels, Jim Thomas and Jackie Cherryhomes — were dropped from contention after the first ballot when they failed to gain enough support to stay in the race according to the convention rules.