Chris Kluwe endorses Gary Schiff for mayor

Former Vikings punter praised Schiff's long-term vision for Minneapolis

Gary Schiff’s campaign for Minneapolis mayor got a kick Thursday when the City Council member announced an endorsement from former Minnesota Viking punter Chris Kluwe.

“The eight years that I was in Minnesota I got to know the state very well, and I think Gary would be a good choice going forward,” Kluwe said in a conference call with reporters.

The two met for the first time over breakfast about a month ago. Both said they held similar values, and Kluwe praised Schiff’s long-term vision for the city.

Kluwe was traded to the Oakland Raiders several weeks ago, but before then the outspoken athlete became known as a vocal supporter of gay rights. Kluwe, who maintains an active Twitter account, climbed atop his social media soapbox to push for the legalization of gay marriage in Minnesota.

A law legalizing gay marriage was signed by Gov. Mark Dayton May 14.

Kluwe said the fact that Schiff, if elected, would be Minneapolis’ first openly gay mayor came up in their conversation. But Kluwe said the candidate’s sexual orientation mattered less to him then his actions.

“Of all the actions of Gary I’ve seen, he seems to be committed to the right thing,” he said.

Kluwe also said he identified with Schiff “as someone who was reluctantly thrust into the political arena.”

A mural Schiff painted while a high school student in Youngstown, N.Y., became the subject of a court case when district leaders attempted to censor its message. Schiff’s cause was taken up by the American Civil Liberties Union, although a judge ultimately sided with the school board.

While a Viking, Kluwe lived in Savage, not Minneapolis, but he said he frequently came to town to practice with his band and dine at restaurants with his wife and children. He also expressed his admiration for Mayor R.T. Rybak, who he called a “good guy” who has “done a wonderful job for the city.”

Before the conference call ended, Schiff invited Kluwe and his band, Tripping Icarus, to play his election night party.

“Oh, sure, yeah, that’d be awesome,” responded Kluwe, who plays bass. “I don’t know if football is going to interfere with that or not. The season is, unfortunately, a very busy time. But definitely I would like to be there.”

In a follow-up email, Kluwe said he and his wife, Isabel, were contributing $1,000 to Schiff’s campaign.