After six hours and five ballots, DFL delegates in Ward 10 of Minneapolis endorsed Lisa Bender for City Council.
Incumbent Meg Tuthill lost after the fourth ballot when she was only able to secure 28 percent of the delegates. That left just Bender and Kendal Killian in the race.
After a fifth ballot, Bender led Killian by a 40 percent to 32 percent split. Tuthill’s delegates, however, were trying to block an endorsement by casting most of their ballots for “no endorsement.” A candidate needed 60 percent of the vote in order to win the endorsement, according to DFL rules.
Killian took the stage after the fifth ballot and threw his support behind Bender with a fiery speech.
“I got into this race because frankly, I want a different City Council and today, that’s what’s happening and that’s what we’re going to get,” Killian told the crowd of 372 remaining delegates.
On a voice vote, the delegates inside of Jefferson Elementary endorsed Bender.
Afterward, Bender praised Killian for conceding to avoid a deadlock and said she was ready for the November election.
Earlier in the day, during a question and answer session, candidates participated in a short question and answer period. According to moderatoror Linda Higgins, the first question was, “Will you suspend your campaign if someone other than you gets endorsed by the delegates today?” That question is written into the DFL rules for the convention.
Tuthill answered with one word: “yes.”
Killian and Bender said they took that to mean Tuthill would abide by the endorsement. Tuthill had a different opinion.
“The question was, will you suspend your campaign,” Tuthill said. “That’s real interesting to me. So I am thinking what does that mean? I don’t know. It didn’t say for how long. It didn’t say permanently. It didn’t say for four years. It didn’t say.”
Asked by reporters if she would abide by the endorsement, Tuthill said she was going on vacation and not thinking about politics.
“I don’t know. I don’t know what I am doing in a week or two. I have no idea. I have a job I’ve been elected to do, and I am going to finish that job and represent these people the very best I can,” she said.
While City Council races are nonpartisan, a DFL endorsement goes a long way in left-leaning city like Minneapolis. In 2009, all 12 City Council candidates who received the DFL endorsement won election.
Tuthill, however, has strong union support and has been a strong fundraiser.
“Meg Tuthill has a long history of not supporting DFL-endorsed candidates,” Killian said. “So if she doesn’t honor the DFL endorsement, that will be par for the course,” Killian said afterward.
Ken Bradley received 14 percent of the votes on the first ballot. He did not endorse another candidate after he dropped out, but it was clear most of his delegates moved to Bender, giving her the edge over Killian.
A Tuthill delegate told the Southwest Journal that the campaign did not believe Killian would bow out of the race. That proved wrong.
Bender, 34, is a Lowry Hill East resident who previously worked for the Minnesota DOT as a safe routes to school coordinator. She survived cancer during her first pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy baby.