The Rybak Factor


Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak was an early and enthusiastic endorser of Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential bid. In fact, Rybak routinely bragged that he was the first mayor to endorse Obama.

The conventional wisdom holds that local endorsements build support for that presidential candidate. Indeed, many political wags expected Rybak to use his early support to build Obama’s Minnesota base and, in turn, bolster Rybak’s base for a future statewide run.

But Stuart Rothenberg in a recent Roll Call article argues differently. “As a rule, endorsements almost never matter,” he writes. Rothenberg further argues that the only significant advantage an endorsement brings to a candidate is “real fundraising clout.”

This sounds like a perfect political scenario for the mayor. Rybak would need to raise significantly more money than he did for his two mayoral races for a statewide run. And with Rybak being mentioned as a future gubernatorial candidate, his endorsement would be a good opportunity to expand his fundraising base.

In June, Rybak partnered with his financial patrons, Sam and Sylvia Kaplan’s to host an Obama event.

How did it turn out? According to the Strib, the event raised an anemic $11.500. One would expect the haul to be much larger. And what does this portend for Rybak’s political future?

Maybe nothing. But some political wags believe that the excitement and energy that Rybak convenes ends at the checkbook (or microphone). The mayor was never a prodigious fundraiser nor does he show signs of using his status to change that. Could that be the real reason that Rybak took a pass on the U.S. Senate Race – a contest that would require Rybak to raise at least $15 million?

Remington Responds

Minneapolis City Council Member Ralph Remington expressed surprise at our recent report describing Doug Kress’s potential challenge for his 10th Ward seat, noting that Kress, who works for CM Lisa Goodman, has worked closely with Remington on development issues and has said nothing about a challenge. But the first-term council member was particularly concerned about our characterizing him as on the outs with the Police Federation. “We’re chillin’,” he said of his relationship with cop union chief John Delmonico.