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Elections: Historic victory for Greens in Minneapolis

Grassroots organizing defeats pro-corporate Democratic Farmer-Labor machine in Minneapolis; Norm Coleman's coattails barely long enough in St. Paul.
The political landscape of Minneapolis shifted on Tuesday, when the Green Party not only elected two City Councilpeople, but unseated the sitting City Council President, Jackie Cherryhomes. Natalie Johnson Lee, an African-American woman, narrowly defeated Cherryhomes in the 5th Ward race, winning by 50% to 49%, with a margin of under 80 votes. Dean Zimmermann also reached the council, defeating Dean Kallenbach in the 6th ward 52% to 47%. Incumbent Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton was dealt a crushing defeat by DFL challenger RT Rybak, losing to him by a 30% margin of 35% to 65% This is the first time that a 'third party' has succeeded electorally in Council races since the Farmer-Labor party of the 1920s and 1930s, which elected state governors and US Senators. Strong, broad-based community organizing was key then and now. Sayles-Belton, Cherryhomes, and Kallenbach were all supported by a top-down, pro-development machine which had few successes on election night.

Jay Benanav, the DFL endorsee in St. Paul, lost by 400 votes to Randy Kelly, who had the blessings of outgoing Republican mayor Norm Coleman. The race was much closer than polls had indicated; Kelly showed a 7% lead a week ago.

Green candidate Cam Gordon, running against Paul Zerby in Ward 2, lost by just over 100 votes. Gordon, who broke new ground for the party in his prior State Representative race against Lee Greenfield, was a strong runner, having defeated incumbent Councilwoman Joan Campbell in the primary. Brother Shane Price, the other Green candidate to have survived the primary, lost to incumbent Council Vice-Chair Joe Biernat. Annie Young, Green Party candidate for Minneapolis Park Board, was also successful in her re-election bid.



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