Fundraising email shows mayoral race getting nasty

The Betsy Hodges mayoral campaign isn’t happy with the way Mark Andrew handled himself in a debate on Monday night, and it’s using his comments to try to raise money from donors.

“… I just wasn’t prepared for the shock I felt last night seeing Mark Andrew try to hijack a policy forum to engage in a relentless series of baseless attacks – while Betsy and the other two candidates calmly continued to have a rational discussion about their ideas for Minneapolis’ future,” Hodges’ Communication Director Aaron Wells wrote in a fundraising email.

Wells asked for donations of any amount “whatever you can give – to send Mark a message that being dishonest and nasty will get him nowhere in Minneapolis.”

Wells was referring to remarks made during an AFL-CIO debate Monday night.

Andrew said Hodges “had the disease of a small vision” when the candidates were asked about whether they would push for a new hotel near the Convention Center.

Andrew today said in a statement, “I’ll be the first to admit it got a little bit spicy on Monday night,” but said he wasn’t attacking Hodges.

“The duty of political candidates is to provide contrasts between him or herself and their fellow candidates,” he said. “In this case, my record on labor and workers’ rights stands in sharp contrast to Councilwoman Hodges, and I pointed that out — that’s not attacking, that’s contrasting.”

Wells also criticized Andrew for make comments about how Hodges’s charter school position is in line with the Koch brothers.  

The Wells email even references another candidate, Cam Winton, who defended Hodges on Twitter after the debate.

Winton tweeted: “She & I don’t agree on all goals & methods to achieve, but anyone who says CM Hodges doesn’t have vision hasn’t been paying attention.”

The fundraising email is just the latest in what is becoming an increasingly nasty race between Hodges and Andrew, who are considered leading candidates to replace Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Andrew has recently given press conferences in which he, without solicitation from reporters, criticized Hodges. On July 29 he was asked about what he thought of municpalized energy, and he responded by saying his opponent doesn’t have the experience to negotiate with Xcel Energy.

“The City Council member who is running for mayor who is behind all of this has zero business experience,” Andrew said on July 29. “She has never worked in the private sector a day in her life and doesn’t understand that when we have to negotiate a deal that’s going be worth billions of dollars to our people, that you have to have constructive engagement.”

While Hodges hasn’t started most of the recent she has been willing to counterpunch (although she didn’t make any direct attacks on Andrew during Monday’s debate). One of her staffers also took shots at Andrew during the DFL Convention. 

Andrew criticized Hodges in late July for being irresponsible about Fire Department staffing. Hodges shot back at Andrew for his close association with Brian Rice, who represented the pension funds Hodges reformed.

“Mark Andrew is not in a position to talk about fiscal responsibility,” Hodges said. “He has on his team, on his campaign, the people who fought hardest against pension reform. The middle men who themselves were making money on a broken system that they helped create and perpetuate (a system) that was bleeding taxpayers dry, that was losing jobs at the city and that was trapping pensioners in a broken system. (I) fought that tooth in nail (against a person) on Mark Andrew’s campaign.”

Supporters of both campaigns have also attacked the candidates.

At the June DFL Convention, when Hodges and Andrew were battling for the party’s endorsement, Kristen McMullen, who is listed as a Hodges “team member” sent out a tweet saying Andrew did not donate to the organization’s fight for same-sex marriage.  McMullen had been the finance director for Minnesotans United for All Families.