Hodges bolstered by Star Tribune's endorsement

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October 27, 2013 // UPDATED 1:27 pm - October 28, 2013
By: Sarah McKenzie
Betsy Hodges at a campaign event earlier this year.
Sarah McKenzie

Mayoral candidate Betsy Hodges and her supporters have been celebrating the Star Tribune's editorial board endorsement in today's paper.

The editorial board wrote that Hodges "wins our endorsement based on her City Council record of responsible leadership, her willingness to take on special interests on behalf of taxpayers, and her potential to grow into the civic cheerleader role that came naturally to Rybak."

The board named Don Samuels its second choice and Jackie Cherryhomes its third. While the board wrote that Mark Andrew was "an effective leader in county government," it raised questions about his ties to unions and whether he'd be able to push for reform in education and public safety. It also wrote "he has too often changed his campaign messages to suit his audience."

Hodges' campaign team will be working to get the word out about the endorsement with Election Day just nine days away, said Andrew O'Leary, Hodges' campaign manager.

"With a crowded field and an undecided electorate, this could be a game changer," he said. "We have the largest paper in the city validating us. It doesn't get better than that."

Don Samuels' campaign manager Patrick Layden said Samuels is proud to have the newspaper's endorsement, which called him "the most convincing advocate for the disadvantaged."

"These are the pillars upon which Don has built his life, not just his campaign, and it is very exciting to see how many people are responding to that commitment," he said. "Don has been working hard to earn first and second choice votes across the city, and we're happy to be able to count the Star Tribune among them."

Former City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes said she's pleased by the newspaper's endorsement  for its third choice for mayor — especially for the recognition of her work on the Hennepin Theatre District, the Target headquarters and Federal Reserve building. "I am also pleased that the Star Tribune recognized my strong commitment to revitalizing the Northside where I have lived for over 35 years," she said. 

Mark Andrew's campaign team doubts that the endorsement will have much of an impact on the race, said Marion Greene, Andrew's deputy campaign manager.

"Mark Andrew, along with many of Minnesota’s other great elected leaders, is apparently too progressive for the Star Tribune," she said. "The Strib’s endorsement doesn’t change Mark’s focus for the next 10 days on communicating his vision for making our great city great for everyone. He connects with more voters every day about how his proven progressive leadership and track record of collaborative results are what this city needs to take us into our next, best chapter."

She said the newspaper's endorsement hasn't been a factor in important races in recent years. "Mark is delighted to have the many endorsements he has —  the ultimate endorsement will come from individual voters on Election Day," she said. 

The editorial board also screened mayoral candidates Cam Winton and Dan Cohen. It had nice words for Winton and suggested he get more experience in public service before his next run for office. As for Cohen, it said: "The blunt former City Council member is more interested in political rough-and-tumble than in building consensus." 

Here's an excerpt from a post Winton made on his Facebook page:  "While I appreciate the Editorial Board's compliment of me ("Cam Winton, 34, a newcomer to the political scene, is bright, energetic and full of ideas."), its endorsement of three DFL insiders demonstrated yet again that it's very good at trying to spend other people's money. The $1 billion Vikings stadium? Editorial Board supported it. The $53-million-per-mile streetcar line? Editorial Board supports it. More government programs to cure social ills? Editorial Board supports them."

Cohen, a frequent critic of the Star Tribune and the new Vikings stadium, said he agrees with the newspaper's description of him as a "rough and tumble politician."

"I wear the description as a badge of honor," he said.

In a statement he posted on his campaign website, he wrote:  "So, what do all the three Strib endorsed candidates for Mayor have in common? They are all supporters of the Vikings stadium deal. Samuels and Cherryhomes from the outset, and Hodges, a battlefield conversion to yes after first voting no."

Hodges was among six members of the City Council who voted against the financing plan for the Vikings stadium. Later she was appointed to serve on the Stadium Implementation Committee, but her stance on the financing of the football team's new home has remained consistent.

Larry Jacobs, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said newspaper endorsements are typically not "especially impactful."

"But the mayoral race is crowded and voters are struggling to distinguish candidates. So it could make a difference in a close race," he said. 

The mayor's race has been a difficult one to make any sound predications about for even the most astute political observers. Andrew led the field in fundraising, according to campaign finance reports posted early September. In a mid-September Star Tribune poll, however, Dan Cohen and Don Samuels led the field of candidates though no one emerged as a clear frontrunner.