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So… Yeah… the Election… Well… Uh…

Time to talk about what happened last night in today's Flyover.

We couldn't make you look at another photo of Jacob today.
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

They Ranked Frey

A lot of pundits, both pro and am, will draw conclusions about what “Minneapolis” wants and thinks after last night, all of those summaries unprovable and most as indicative of the summarizer’s perspective as they are of electoral reality. Every assertion has a hypothetical counterpoint: For instance, results that can be construed as strong support for the status quo might simply be a case of voters cautiously sticking with the devil they know. But certainly Jacob Frey’s message—that he was somehow being held back from governing effectively by a dithering city council that kept trying to take the cops away from your neighborhoods “without a plan” to replace them—didn’t not resonate with many voters.

In his second term, Frey will benefit from the passage of the so-called “strong mayor” charter amendment, which may essentially end council input on day to day affairs. (The case against that change was made most cogently here.) He’ll also retain (theoretical) control over the Minneapolis Police Department—an entity that emerged unscathed with the defeat of the public safety charter amendment, but that notably received a no confidence vote from 45% of the city’s voters. Which might not do anything but certainly says something.

At Least There Are Maps

If you do want to draw some conclusions of your own about last night’s voting, you can thank Aaron Booth for tweeting out some instructive heat maps he concocted (linked below). Using the data from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s site, Booth shows precinct by precinct how the ballot questions and mayoral vote broke down, in Minneapolis and St. Paul (where Melvin Carter won a second term so easily he barely made headlines). Predictably, Minneapolis politics is still dominated by the so-called “golden crescent” that runs from Linden Hills, up through the lakes and into downtown. Less predictably, maybe, both Frey and the public safety question drew strong support in North Minneapolis.

At Least There’s Rent Control

The one silver lining for progressives last night was the approval of rent control questions in both of the Twin Cities. Given the likely make up of next year’s Minneapolis city council, the passage of a ballot initiative granting that council the ability to pass rent control ordinances may not be an immediate concern. (Remember though, that thanks to redistricting we get to vote for city council all again in 2023.) But St. Paul voters passed the strongest renter protections in the U.S., setting a 3% annual cap on increases for all rental properties regardless of their age or size. Let’s see if they can show their headline-hogging neighbor how it’s done.

At Least There Are Ward 9 and 2 (And Maybe 1?)

Yes, it was a rough night for city council progressives in Minneapolis. In Ward 4, Phillipe Cunningham lost to LaTrisha Vetaw, who had participated in a chummy Zoom conference with landlords where she joked that they should tell their tenants “their lease will be terminated” unless they became delegates for her. DFL scion Emily Koski defeated Jeremy Schroeder in Ward 11. We’re still waiting for the ranked choice voting tabulators to clue us in on the rest, but damn, Michael Rainville, who semi-retired local journalist (and Twitter personality) David Brauer once called “a sentient Police Federation door decal,” seems poised to take out Steve Fletcher in Ward 3. [UPDATE: Yep, it’s Rainville.]

But let’s look on the bright side: Ward 9 cements its status as a lefty stronghold by trading in unreliable lame duck Alondra Cano for young Democratic Socialist Jason Chavez in an election which handily sent the wily Mickey Moore back home (wherever that is). In Ward 2, another Democratic Socialist, Robin Wonsley Worlobah, appears to have eked out a very narrow win over Green incumbent Cam Gordon and challenger Yusra Arab. [UPDATE: A third Democratic Socialist, Aisha Chughtai, won the Ward 10 seat left vacant by departing council president Lisa Bender. So a lousy night for left-leaning Dems turns out to be a great night for the DSA, which went 3-for-3, none of its winners white men. In fact, for the first time ever, people of color with make up the majority of the Minneapolis City Council.] And in the night’s big surprise, progressive Elliott Payne looks likely to topple Kevin Reich in Northeast’s Ward 1 if the numbers hold. [UPDATE: Payne held on.] Maybe the message voters sent was that they just don’t like their city council members? [UPDATE: Why didn’t I wait till all the results were in before I published this?]