Minneapolis for Sale: socialism wins!

The final campaign finance numbers are in for the 2023 election for the Minneapolis city council. All 13 council seats were on the ballot, and the results saw the avowedly socialist candidates win a working majority over their more traditional, left-wing Democratic opponents.

I refer to this intramural battle in the state’s largest city as “Mensheviks vs. Bolsheviks.” History tells us to always bet on the Bolsheviks. 2023 was no exception to the rule.

In terms of the money game, the leading PAC on the socialist side was Minneapolis for the Many. The largest single donor to the Many was an out-of-state PAC called Movement Voter, contributing $60,000. Local labor unions added $25,000, with out-of-state unions adding $20,000 more. Those three sources accounted for half the money raised.

Two other local dark money outfits also pitched in, Faith in Minnesota (a unit of the political nonprofit Isaiah) and TakeAction MN. I’ve netted out transfers between groups in this presentation:

Actual campaign spending was greater than the amounts shown above as some groups (such as TC DSA) spent down reserves on these races.

This $300,000 or so spent on the socialists was more than offset by the sums spent by the chamber-of-commerce-backed PAC All of MPLS. This group spent more than $700,000 on city council races last year.

Like the candidates they back, donors to All of MPLS represent the more mainstream faction of the state’s Democratic party. The largest individual donations came from DFL megadonors Alida Messinger and Vance Opperman, who each gave $50,000. Members of the Pohlad family (Minnesota Twins) collectively contributed $70,000.

All of MPLS benefitted from their own stable of labor unions and out-of-state PACs.

The candidates themselves also raised substantial sums of money.

The closest fought race was to be found in Ward 8, contested between incumbent Democrat Andrea Jenkins (then serving as council president), socialist challenger Soren Stevenson, and two others. Jenkins came from behind and squeaked by Stevenson in round 2 of ranked-choice voting by a margin of just 38 votes.

In the race, the incumbent Jenkins reported raising almost $98,000 last year, with Stevenson reporting a fundraising total of $56,000 for his effort.

These dollar figures sound impressive, because they are. But they pale in comparison to what’s at stake. For the want of a few hundred thousand dollars either way, the majority now controls a city budget approaching $2 billion (with a “b”).

All that stands in the way of the new socialist majority in Minneapolis is the slightly more moderate Mayor Jacob Frey.

God help us all.