MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has been re-elected to a second term after facing a bitter challenge in a race focused on calls for policing change and racial justice, election officials announced Wednesday.
Seventeen candidates entered the race, including many who disagreed with how Frey made changes to the police department after one of his officers killed George Floyd last year. Frey, a Democrat, risked his political future and drew the ire of the city’s most liberal voices by opposing a ballot question asking voters to dismantle the police department.
Voters convincingly dismissed the question on Tuesday, but left Freya wondering about her fate until Wednesday. After the first tally on Tuesday night, Frey had 43 percent of the vote, more than double the support of his closest rivals, but lacked more than 50 percent for a complete victory under the city’s rating voting system.
Frey was declared the winner after the city government allocated voters’ choices for second and third places when their first choice was ruled out. City officials said Frey won 49.1 percent, or 70,669 votes, versus Kate Knuth’s 38.2 percent runner-up, or 55,007 votes.
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Only a handful of candidates were considered a serious threat to Frey, with two – Knut and Sheila Nejad – teamed up to develop a strategy to encourage voters to remove Frey entirely from their ballots. This pair was supported by the US representative Ilhan Omar.
Frey, a Democrat from a liberal-dominated city, faced intense competitive pressure on his left flank. Seventeen candidates were in the race for mayor, including many who disagreed with how Frey made changes to the police department after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis officer last year. Frey positioned himself as opposed to the attempt to eliminate the police department and the most high-profile liberals who sought a symbolic victory in the city of Floyd.
Voters unconditionally rejected the proposal to replace the department, which was opposed by about 56%. Two of the board members who supported the elimination were pushed out by the challengers, and the other two competed in close races.
Knut, 40, is a former government spokesman and environmental justice activist. Nejad, 33, is a community organizer who has worked as a political analyst for one of the leading groups to dismantle the police department. Both women also supported rent control, another proposal on Tuesday, in contrast to Frey’s general opposition.
According to the ranking system, candidates with no chance of winning after the first round of counting are excluded. The voter who supported such an unlucky candidate then tabulates his second choice, assuming that candidate will remain in the race. The process is repeated until the candidate is declared the winner.
Late Tuesday night, Frey called it “a really good night,” but did not claim to win. Remaining in office, he will benefit from voter approval for another vote on Tuesday – one that translates the city to a form of government with a strong mayor. Critics have long said that the city’s weak mayoral system has sometimes meant confusion over who has clear authority over city departments and staff.
Frey was the face of Minneapolis on some of its darkest days, including Floyd’s death in May 2020 and the riots that darkened ensuing protests and set the police station on fire after Frey ordered officers to leave. Floyd’s death sparked the most riots in the United States since the Rodney King riots.
During the worst unrest in Minneapolis, Conservatives accused Frey of failing to stop the riots and crack down on growing crime and gun violence. Meanwhile, leftists criticized him for not doing enough to overhaul the police department.
Frey, a Virginia-trained lawyer and transplantologist, first won a seat on the city council in 2013. He rose to mayor in 2017, expelling the incumbent Betsy Hodges in a race also fueled by police accountability issues, including the 2015 assassination of Jamar Clark. , a black man, in the fight against white officers and in the 2017 murder of a white woman Justine Ruschik Damond by a black officer.