Rybak re-elected, mum on governor's raceby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio,
Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio,
Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio,
Ken Paulman, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was elected to a third term Tuesday night, winning 74 percent of the vote in an 11-candidate field.
Musician and civic activist Papa John Kolstad was a distant second with 11 percent, according to unofficial returns reported to the Secretary of State's office.
The election was the first in Minneapolis using instant runoff voting, but because Rybak emerged with a clear majority, the second and third choices marked by voters won't be a factor. Several Minneapolis voters interviewed by MPR News said they were only marking one choice on the ballot.
Results from the election were slow in coming Tuesday night, because the ballots had to be hauled to a central facility instead of being counted by machines at polling places throughout the day.
Rybak waited to declare victory until 80 percent of precincts were going his way, well after he had already given his scheduled speech to supporters. But, instead of going back to the podium, the mayor acknowledged his win while relaxing next to the bar.
"It's nice to win a big election," he said. "It's nice to win a third term. It's wonderful to have all these great supporters. But to me it's always been about the idea that I get to walk up to somebody's door and say hi and ask them for their vote."
Two of the 13 city council races on the ballot were left undecided Tuesday night after no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote. City voters also rejected a ballot measure that would have eliminated the board of estimate and taxation.
Rybak is still not saying whether he's going to run for governor in 2010. The mayor has been making all of the moves of a gubernatorial candidate in recent months, even as he was running for a third term.
Speaking to reporters at his victory party at a downtown hotel, Rybak sidestepped whether he was going to get into the race.
"I've been saying for many months that it's likely I'll get in the race and I'm saying the same thing now," Rybak said. "But I won't be making any definitive judgment for a little bit of time."
Rybak said it could take months before he makes a decision. He claimed no knowledge of his schedule when a reporter told him he was confirmed to attend a DFL gubernatorial forum in Moorhead on Sunday.
Rybak also would talk with his political team in the next few days as to whether they would file paperwork with the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board.
Even though Republicans have been heavily critical of him for running two campaigns at once, many of those at Rybak's victory party openly encouraged Rybak to run for governor.
Several current city council members showed up to celebrate with the mayor. Betsy Hodges, Robert Lilligren and Gary Schiff each reached the threshold of votes needed to win. Kevin Reich, Cam Gordon, Diane Hofstede, Lisa Goodman, Meg Tuthill, John Quincy and Sandy Colvin Roy were also winners in the council race.
Council president Barb Johnson received 47 percent of first choice votes in her ward. So now her race goes to a runoff, where the candidate with the least votes gets dropped in successive rounds until someone tops 50 percent. The second choices made by people who voted for the first round loser will be distributed to the rest of the candidates.
Johnson says she thinks she'll get enough of those second choice votes to put her over the threshold.
"We're fairly confident," she said." We won every precinct and we have a hefty majority. So basically, it's the Republican that drops off and I think that goes to my base."
Council member Don Samuels also failed to get a majority of first choice votes. So he'll have to wait for the hand count. That will take several weeks to complete. Like Johnson, Samuels says he's confident the count will put him over the top.
Editor's note: Because of an editing error, John Quincy's name was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.
- Morning Edition, 11/04/2009, 7:20 a.m.
Brandt Williams is a reporter with MPR News' Metro Unit.
Tom Scheck covers politics and government for MPR News.
Tim Pugmire covers politics and state government for MPR News.