I think the SD59 special election primary race is fascinating. First off, the primary winner will win the general because this is Minneapolis. Secondly, SD59 decided not to hold a endorsing convention. There are 5 legitimate candidates all vying to replace Larry Pogemiller in the Minnesota Senate. The candidates are Kari Dziedzic, Jacob Frey, Mohamud Noor, Paul Ostrow and Peter Wagenius.
Dziedzic is the clear frontrunner (I explain why below) and normally in any other district, the campaign she has put together would be enough to guarantee victory. However, Noor has a shot if the other candidates can peel enough voters away from Dziedzic because of the rise of the Somali community in Minneapolis politics. And knowing Wagenius, Ostrow and a little bit about Frey, they’ll all work really hard.
Last weekend, I drove up Marshall St NE on an errand and the Dziedzic lawn signs are everywhere. These signs are just for the primary, they say Vote Dec. 6, and everyone knows [cough] signs win elections [/cough].
More importantly, she’s got the Dziedzic family name and Brian Rice on her side. Rice is the attorney who represents
the city police union, firefighter’s union, the park board and so many interests that I’ve lost count. The end result of her family name, Rice and her own abilities is she has raised a huge amount of money. Her supporters list is a massive laundry list of who’s who in Nordeast politics. From the current City Council Member Kevin Reich (Ward 1, Nordeast) and Council President Barb Johnson (North Side) to Hennepin Co. Commissioner Peter McLaughlin to former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton … to name but a few. Women Winning, the Building Trades union and the Firefighters (local and state affiliates) have endorsed her.
She’s the insider candidate with the political machine behind her. Its her race to lose. She’s got nearly all the institutional support she needs and should know how to run a campaign in SD59. And this would be more than enough in any other district.
Her only competition for endorsements is Somali activist Mohamud Noor. He’s got MAPE and the Teacher’s. Both sides are going to try and get the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation to endorse them. No endorsement is more likely. We should know in a few days, apparently.
UPDATE: The MRLF decided not to endorse in the SD59 race. Also, I forgot that Stonewall DFL endorsed Noor. [/UPDATE]
Dziedzic and former Minneapolis Council Member Paul Ostrow are going to battle it out for the votes in the northern half of SD59. I think that this particular battle is critical in this race.
Why? Take a look at a map of the district. Did you notice the bottom of the map? Cedar Riverside neighborhood is part of SD59. That area has the Cedar Riverside towers and there’s also that tower south of Hwy 94 but north of Franklin Ave. There’s an awful lot of Somalis living in this neighborhood as well as strewn throughout NordEast Minneapolis. Many of them are citizens now. Like thousands. And this is why Noor has a chance.
Strangely, Peter Wagenius may not have that much of a chance in this race. He’s well known in Seward, Prospect Park and around the University, but has few connections in the heart of the district up north. Among politicos he’s well known as part of the RT Rybak brain trust and as a permanent fixture in the Mayor’s Administration, but that doesn’t mean your average Nordeast primary voter will know who he is.
Unfortunately, Jacob Frey may have picked the wrong year to run. This short campaign is going to hurt his chances. He needs a full campaign season to build up his name recognition. He started out too far behind in my opinion. And this is unfortunate as he sounds like he’d be a great State Senator.
Let’s kick some numbers around. I’m going to guess that 3,000 of the regulars who always turn out to vote in Nordeast primaries are going to vote. If Ostrow can peel away enough off Dziedzic, Mahamud Noor might win. I’m going to guess that neither Wagenius nor Frey break 500. If they do, those are votes that Dziedzic didn’t get. If Dziedzic were to pull 50% in any other district or around 1,500 votes in this district, she would would win by a healthy margin in any other year. But not this year. She may need to two-thirds or more this year.
Here’s why: few Somalis are part of the normal primary voting pool in which the other four are swimming. Noor brings in voters from outside the normal pool — Somalis. Considering he got 1,600+ votes out of SD59 precincts in the last School Board primary and these were primarily Somali voters, he only needs to find and turn out a few hundred more Somalis and add a handful of regular voters per precinct to break 2,000 votes. 2,000 might easily be enough to win this primary and win the Senate seat.