Candidates line up in wake of Rybak's announcementby Curtis Gilbert, Minnesota Public Radio
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Voters next year will elect the city's first new mayor in more than a decade.
Incumbent Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis announced Thursday he will not seek a fourth term. His announcement unleashes a flood of pent-up political ambition — within hours, candidates were already lining up to take the outgoing mayor's place.
The decision leaves questions about what the also-ambitious Rybak will do next.
"This job thrills me and it still gives me goose bumps," Rybak said.
Rybak said he still loves being mayor of Minneapolis, but that after more than a decade leading the state's biggest city is ready to restore some balance to his life and his family's. There are other ways to make a difference in the world, besides being mayor, Rybak said.
"There are people all over this city, every day who do big things and small things as private citizens to make this a better place. I've been one of those people before and I'm going to be one of those again."
Exactly what Rybak will do once he finishes his final year as mayor remains uncertain. He was active in President Barack Obama's re-election campaign and it is possible there could be a job for him in Washington. Rybak did not rule out an administration job, but said it is more likely he will stay in Minnesota. He ran unsuccessfully for governor two years ago. Rybak said he might still consider running for that office, but acknowledges he will have to be patient.
"Governor is the one other job that I would run for. But I don't expect that will be open for six years," Rybak said. "I expect the governor to run again. Maybe I'll be in a walker by the time it's open. I may still be interested. But we'll just have to see then."
With DFL incumbents holding every statewide office, Rybak's political options are limited for now. There aren't many places to move up.
But with Rybak planning to move out of the mayor's office, there are plenty of Minneapolis politicians interested in taking his place.
City Councilmember Gary Schiff is considering a run and he knows he's not the only one.
"I think any time you see a once-in-a-generation moment like this when there is an empty seat, you'll see a lot of people stepping forward who really believe in Minneapolis and really believe in public service and have a lot to give," Schiff said.
Schiff will decide next month whether to jump in the race. Others made up their minds immediately.
Minneapolis City Councilmember Betsy Hodges formed an exploratory committee last month so she could raise and spend money to run for mayor. She vowed to drop out if Rybak decided to run again, but Thursday's announcement solidified her decision.
"I am running for mayor," Hodges said.
Former City Council Member Jackie Cherryhomes is currently vacationing in Hawaii, but yesterday her mind was on Minneapolis, as well.
"A number of people have talked to me and encouraged me to run, and when I get back in town I will be establishing a formal campaign committee and getting in the race," Cherryhomes said.
Minneapolis School Boardmember Hussein Samatar is also considering a mayoral run. But he never would have run against Rybak.
"If he reverses tonight and he says tonight and he says tomorrow that he wants to be the mayor, I will be the first to show up to volunteer," Samatar said.
Rybak said the pool of candidates eager to replace him influenced the timing of his announcement. It gives them lots of time to campaign, something he needed when he first ran for mayor in 2001.
"I was not known at all, and I went in to the summer with about a 20 percent name-approval rating. And elections in this city are really won person-to-person, door-to-door, and that take a long time," Rybak said. "And I want to make sure door-to-door candidates have a chance, too."
With Rybak out of the race, there will be plenty of candidates going door-to-door next year in Minneapolis.
- Morning Edition, 12/28/2012, 7:20 a.m.