Mayoral candidate Raymond Dehn upstages competitors at convention but misses DFL endorsement

The event, held in Minneapolis Saturday, often fails to lead to a DFL endorsement.

Lee Greenfield, former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and board member of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, chats about campaign buttons at the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's 2017 City Convention on Saturday, July 8, 2017 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Greenfield said he has

Ellen Schmidt

Lee Greenfield, former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and board member of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, chats about campaign buttons at the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s 2017 City Convention on Saturday, July 8, 2017 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Greenfield said he has “boxes and boxes” of campaign buttons at his home.

Bella Dally-Steele

After a 12-hour convention Saturday, Minneapolis delegates made their way home at a premature 10 p.m., failing to endorse any of the seven mayoral candidates.

The early adjournment followed the marginal victory for Rep. Raymond Dehn, who earned 32 percent of the first vote, placing him ahead of Ward 3 City Council Member Jacob Frey and incumbent Betsy Hodges, who earned 28 and 24 percent of the votes, respectively.

Dan McConnell, Minneapolis DFL chair, said while non-endorsements are common — the DFL hasn’t endorsed a mayoral candidate in a contested race since 1979 — missing an endorsement is not ideal.

“If we get an endorsement, it gives our members someone to rally around,” he said. “Otherwise, we tend to go our own ways.”

Al Flowers, Captain Jack Sparrow and Aswar Rahman were forced to drop their bid for the endorsement after earning less than 10 percent of the first votes.

Rahman was among the five candidates to agree to drop their bid should another candidate win endorsement. Flowers and Sparrow made no such promises.

Another candidate for mayor, former Minneapolis NAACP chapter President Nekima Levy-Pounds, did not attend the convention.

Although the partial victory provoked a livelier response from the Dehn campaign than others, workers across campaigns expressed disappointment in the DFL procedures.

“I have some serious questions about whether this is the best process for our party and for our democratic process to choose candidates for endorsements,” said Joe Radinovich, Frey’s campaign manager.

He said the 12-hour process made it clear that improvements could be made, and expects the party to reevaluate the process after the mayoral election in November.

Joelle Stangler, campaign manager for Dehn and a former University of Minnesota student body president, said although the process was frustrating, it helped the team assess that their campaign plan was on track.

“This process, although cumbersome and although exclusionary, can provide an in road for someone like Ray,” Stangler said.

Delegates and University Campus Organizers for Dehn’s campaign, Sonia Neculescu and Alaina Friedrich, said the new name-value and buzz surrounding Dehn’s underdog success will help them as they turn from canvasing delegates to college neighborhoods.

Neculescu and Friedrich said as the candidates move towards the general election, all eyes seem to lie on the youth vote.

Although Stangler said Dehn’s campaign was brought to the convention on the back of college youths, other campaigns said they need further student support.

Rylee Stirn, University of Minnesota student and intern on Hodges’ campaign, said although she came in contact with a fair amount of students during her canvasing and phone banking, she expected to see more of her peers actively participating in the mayoral race.