The Senate District 62 DFL primary pits a leading Minnesota Democrat against a progressive challenger who won the party endorsement in May at a virtual convention.
State Sen. Jeff Hayden has served in the Legislature since 2009, first as a representative before winning a 2011 special Senate election.
He is one of four assistant minority leaders in the 32-member Senate DFL caucus and has said that his skill set and experience with health and human services would be invaluable in upcoming legislative sessions.
Meanwhile, challenger Omar Fateh, a Democratic socialist, has said the district needs new leadership that’s more in sync with residents’ progressive stances.
He wants to bring a single-payer health care system and free universal two-and four-year college to Minnesota and to repeal a statewide ban on rent control.
Hayden’s priorities include a statewide $15 hourly minimum wage, rent freezes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, eliminating the educational achievement gap by 2024 and ending racial disparities.
His Senate accomplishments include helping to pass a state minimum-wage increase in 2014, requiring foster parents to maintain a smoke-free environment and championing a 2016 package to provide $35 million in state funding to job-training, education and small-business-assistance programs for people of color.
Since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, Hayden has made a renewed push to pass a series of criminal justice reform bills, including ones that would impose residency requirements on Minneapolis and St. Paul police officers.
The package also includes bills to restore voting rights to felons and give the state attorney general authority to prosecute police officers who use deadly force.
Hayden also applauded the School Board and Park Board in Minneapolis for cutting ties with the city’s police department in the wake of Floyd’s death.
Fateh has also called for systemic police reform, and he said on Facebook that he supports a proposed charter amendment that would allow Minneapolis to dissolve its police force and replace it with a new public safety agency.
In addition, he wants to ban the use of tear gas, allow for greater civilian oversight of police and explore ways mental health crises and other problems can be solved without turning to police.
Another priority for Fateh is housing protections, including a constitutional amendment to make housing a guaranteed right for all Minnesotans. He also wants to make it legal across Minnesota to build four-plexes on all residential lots, as was originally conceived under the Minneapolis 2040 plan, and pass a renters’ bill of rights.
Fateh also supports a $15 minimum wage, and he is calling for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, the elimination of cash bail and divesting the state’s pension fund from fossil fuel interests.
This is the third run for public office for Fateh, 30, a business analyst at the University of Minnesota. In 2015, he ran unsuccessfully for the Fairfax County, Virginia, School Board, and in 2018, he finished third in the DFL primary in House District 62A, which includes Stevens Square and Whittier.
At the virtual District 62 DFL convention in May, Fateh won 72% of 582 votes cast to earn the endorsement. He also has endorsements from Our Revolution Twin Cities and five Minneapolis-based elected officials, including Park Board members Jono Cowgill and Chris Meyer and School Board members Ira Jourdain and Josh Pauly.
Hayden has endorsements from six unions and a number of current and former local and statewide elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Attorney General Keith Ellison and Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins.