Socialists come to St. Paul

The local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (TC DSA) makes a play in the race for St. Paul City Council.

You will recall that earlier this week TC DSA issued a blistering statement backing the terrorist group Hamas in their struggle against Israel.

We’ve documented the Socialists’ increasing involvement in Minneapolis politics. Now the group is turning its attention to the other Twin City.

Comparing the two governments, St. Paul has a smaller city council with only 7 members, each elected to represent a separate ward. Members are elected to four-year terms, rather than two, so the last election was held back in 2019. All seven seats are on the ballot next month.

The council is officially nonpartisan.

St. Paul suffers from many of the same pathologies besetting its neighbor to the west: homelessness, rising crime, general disorder. But the impact on St. Paul has appeared to be significantly less than that seen in Minneapolis.

The 2023 election appears to be TC DSA’s biggest foray into St. Paul city politics. This time, they have backed candidates in two of the seven races.

DSA is backing Neslie Yang, the Ward 6 incumbent. DSA worked on her behalf in 2019, as well, without making a formal endorsement. Yang, who formerly worked for the far-left political nonprofit TakeAction MN, won a six-way race that year for an open seat. In 2023, she faces only a single opponent. Yang lists her political leaning as “Progressive Democrat.” Her opponent describes himself as a Democrat.

Both candidates for Ward 6 are Democrats of varying degrees. Yang’s opponent is a retired 3M engineer. The St. Paul Pioneer Press describes Yang’s role on the council,

Now 28, she’s also been one of the most vocally intent on moving the council, which is officially nonpartisan, to the left of its Democratic-Farmer-Labor majority.

The incumbent in Ward 5 (and current council president), Amy Brendmoen, is not running for re-election after 12 years in office. DSA is endorsing Hwa Jeong Kim, one of the four challengers for the open seat.

Kim currently works as the Executive Director of Minnesota Voice, a far-left political nonprofit linked to the Alliance for a Better Minnesota network.

Like Minneapolis, St. Paul uses the ranked-choice voting (RCV) method to select election winners. Under RCV, multiple candidates contest each race, without the use of a party primary. Voters rank their choices 1-2-3, in order of preference.

As we’ve documented, the mechanics of how RCV votes are tabulated pushes politics toward the ideological extremes, which is exactly the opposite effect claimed by RCV advocates.

Both Kim and Yang have also been endorsed by the local branch of the dominant Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party.

DSA did endorse a St. Paul-area candidate last year, Athena Hollins, who won re-election to the MN House of Representatives representing district 66-B. Hollins first won election in 2020, knocking off an incumbent DFL member, John Lesch, in the party primary. Hollins did not have a primary challenge in 2022.

In only her second term, Hollins serves as Majority Whip, one of the highest-ranking positions in House leadership.

Also in 2022, TC DSA endorsed Mai Chong Xiong, a candidate for Ramsey County Commissioner, for district 6. Xiong prevailed in a close election (a margin of about 200 votes) to win an open seat on the Commission.

Today St. Paul, tomorrow the world.