Convention shows weakness in DFL party

The DFL mayoral convention became an acrimonious learning experience.

Daily Editorial Board

The June 15 Minneapolis Democratic-Farmer-Labor convention ended without endorsement and visibly weakened the party.

The convention was not without its antics. One of two leading candidates, Councilwoman Betsy Hodges, led a walk-out after the fourth vote, making a quorum doubtful. Rumors of dubious actions — which convention leader Mark Andrews described as “questionable back-room tricks” — only reassured the benefit of having no official DFL endorsement. Without an endorsement, however, the election now has at least some diversity of candidates.

Though there is ranked-choice voting (RCV) come Election Day, the city convention only has a single endorsement after a candidate brandishes 60 percent of delegates’ votes. Candidates who do not prevail at the convention are expected to abide by the endorsement, or risk turning the party against itself or disrespecting the decision of delegates. This is largely why local elections are decided on the endorsement.

RCV, which began in the 2009 city elections, could ensure an array of candidates if used in future DFL conventions. It would leave the party more organized than what we’ll see with the nearly dozen candidates on the ballot in November. This year there was no primary because of RCV implementation, and with so many candidates, it might take vote transfers from among the top three or four finishers before a victor is found with a majority of preferences.

The DFL convention set up the Minneapolis mayoral race to be an exciting, albeit bitter election. An endorsement coming from a chaotic city convention would benefit no one. This is the first Minneapolis mayoral race without an incumbent in decades.  Ultimately it should not be delegates deciding such an open election, it should be voters.

Finally, if RCV is to be used, the DFL should fully commit to maintaining organization and implement the voting method in conventions.