In third attempt, Rybak gets DFL endorsement

Sometimes, sayings do come true: R.T. Rybak’s third time was the charm.

On May 16, the two-term mayor received his very first Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party campaign endorsement. It puts him on track for winning a third term in this highly Democratic city’s November election.

Rybak was one of just two candidates DFLers were choosing from. His challenger, community activist Al Flowers, used much of a pre-vote speech to discuss the low points of Rybak’s tenure in office, repeatedly citing tens of millions of dollars in court settlements the city has had to pay. Flowers also questioned why the convention wasn’t allowing a question-and-answer session with the candidates. He said it was the first time a city convention wasn’t doing one and that it was preventing a true vetting of Rybak.

“We should not let him get away with this,” Flowers said.

His arguments didn’t help him much, if at all. Rybak blew him away, receiving 591 votes, or 75 percent. Flowers received just 69 votes, or 8.8 percent.

“I’ve never, ever had more energy for this job,” Rybak told an uproarious crowd, which chanted, “RT! RT! RT!”

Rybak’s most visible opponent on the campaign trail until recently, Bob Miller, wasn’t nominated for an endorsement. He indefinitely suspended his campaign in March citing family health concerns.

Also at the convention, representatives of Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board District 6, which includes lakes Calhoun and Harriet, again chose not to endorse incumbent Commissioner Bob Fine. Despite three previous election wins, Fine has never received the DFL endorsement.

Fine had tried to persuade delegates by pointing out his successes of the past four years, including helping to create a comprehensive plan for the Park Board and to form the Lakes District Council. He also called himself a key player in the completion of the Nieman Sports Complex.

It wasn’t enough. By a 94-25 vote, the nod instead went to newcomer Brad Bourn, who works at a North Side nonprofit with youth. Bourn said he would bring more transparency to the Park Board, as well as keep citizens on the forefront of its work. He also faulted Fine for the Nieman Complex — which bleeds money, Bourn said — and for being a key part of the hiring of Superintendent Jon Gurban, whom he called one of the most controversial superintendents the Park Board has ever had.

For Park Board District 4, which includes Lake of the Isles, delegates endorsed first-time candidate Anita Tabb. She currently is the only person running to replace outgoing Commissioner Tracy Nordstrom.

Also, all three at-large Park Board candidates seeking DFL endorsements received them.

For the Board of Estimate and Taxation, only incumbent Carol Becker received an endorsement. Delegates could have endorsed one other candidate — three other options existed — but not enough delegates remained to complete voting.

Estimate and Taxation candidate Alex Eaton said he would end his campaign.