Mayor Jacob Frey and at least 17 other candidates in Minneapolis elections this year asked the DFL Party not to make endorsements, saying they had concerns about the virtual format and felt time would be better spent building consensus among party members.

“Endorsements borne of this process will be viewed as illegitimate by many campaigns and observers, and they threaten to undermine the integrity of our great Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party,” wrote the group, which included Frey and City Council members Kevin Reich, Jamal Osman, Lisa Goodman and Linea Palmisano, as well as political newcomers.

In a meeting with state party leaders Monday night and on social media, some other DFL members pushed back, accusing the group who wrote the letter of trying to undermine the democratic process. Minneapolis DFL leaders are scheduled to meet Tuesday evening to consider whether to follow through with the plan to hold endorsement meetings virtually.

The DFL has long dominated city politics, but arguments over how to change policing following George Floyd’s death have highlighted divisions within the local party and attracted national attention and campaign spending.

That adds a new dynamic to this November’s race, when the mayor’s office, all 13 City Council seats and spots on the Board of Estimate and Taxation and Park and Recreation Board all come up for election.

Candidates who win the endorsement are typically able to share resources, giving them access to a larger pool of volunteers and the ability to share costs of campaign fliers, among other efforts aimed at boosting their campaigns.

It’s too early to tell how many people will enter the races — candidates don’t have to file paperwork declaring their runs until late in the summer — but early estimates have nearly 60 people considering campaigns.

In an interview Tuesday, Palmisano said they fear the new virtual endorsement process won’t be accessible to many residents and that it will cause further tensions as the city awaits the outcome of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing Floyd.

“I think what we’re scared of is how this all could get quickly corrupted by people who have the most outside money coming in,” Palmisano said. “The beauty of a caucus is about it being really grassroots, and that’s not … what these other influences are trying to accomplish.”

The DFL endorsement process typically unfolds over a series of weeks, with multiple in-person meetings that sometimes run late into the night as people discuss which candidates they should support. This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, meetings will happen online.

The process typically begins with people meeting with others in their precincts and selecting delegates, who then go on to ward- or city-level conventions and vote on whom the party should endorse.

To move that process online, the Minneapolis DFL needed permission from the state party, whose leaders met Monday night.

Ken Martin, chair of the state DFL, said he has confidence in the plan that Minneapolis DFL leaders have pitched.

“I want to give a lot of kudos to a lot of people who were involved … for really thinking this through and thinking about all the possible scenarios and trying to solve those while also again making sure that we lived our values as a party and allowed people at the grassroots to make these important decisions,” Martin said.

Martin added: “Every election cycle, as long as I’ve been chair now … you get various candidates and elected officials who will gripe about the process, so I don’t think that there’s anything difference about this time, other than the fact that I do think there are legitimate concerns that have been raised by various elected officials and candidates, but I believe those concerns have been addressed.”

This story is developing and will be updated.

Liz Navratil • 612-673-4994

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