For fringe candidates, it’s about the principle

From left, Captain Jack Sparrow, Jeff Wagner, Michael Gould and Dan Cohen are just a few of the 35 candidates running for Minneapolis mayor. (MPR Photo/Curtis Gilbert)

One dresses like a pirate, while another runs with the Pirate Party. Ten are running as DFLers, but none with the party’s endorsement.

An eclectic pool of 35 candidates is vying to be Minneapolis’ next mayor, but only eight are waging the most active campaigns — spending money and getting invited to debates.

Most candidates on the race’s periphery don’t think they’ll actually become the next mayor. But for some with more serious platforms, it’s about bringing attention to an issue.

“The point is more to get government to respond to what people want,” said Bob “Again” Carney, Jr.

Carney isn’t running with a particular political party, but instead chose to campaign under the principle of “Demand Transit Revolution,” according to his official affidavit of candidacy.

Bob Carney is running for Minneapolis mayor on the platform of “Demand Transit Revolution.”

About a third of the 35 candidates are running under a political principle instead of a traditional party moniker, often hoping to bring attention to one issue.

Two frontrunners for mayor are also ditching political parties for campaign principles. Dan Cohen and Cam Winton are running under “Jobs Downtown Casino” and “Independent Responsible Inclusive” principles, respectively.

Many of these issues candidates have banded together for what they call the “Mayoral Council.” At the council’s final meeting before Election Day, several candidates endorsed Cohen as their top choice for mayor.

The council has met weekly on Government Plaza in downtown Minneapolis this fall. One member frequently shows up in his underwear and the meetings are run in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order.

Much attention has been focused on the spectacle of the Mayoral Council. Jeff Wagner, a council member and DFLer, has received national attention for his campaign’s videos — not its platform.

Wagner said he wants to legalize marijuana and put Jimi Hendrix posters and a stripper’s pole in the mayor’s office. In his first campaign video, he emerges from a lake in his swimsuit and yells his message at Minneapolis voters.

“If you see a man in fashionable swim trunks … either you’re gonna love it or hate it, but you’re gonna share it,” Wagner said.

But some Mayoral Council members stress that their platforms are serious. In attempts to be taken more seriously, council member and “Count All Rankings” candidate Capt. Jack Sparrow has stopped wearing his pirate garb.

“Despite my rather unusual name and unusual attire, I do have a very serious platform,” he said. Sparrow, who changed his legal name after being arrested in a pirate costume during the Occupy movement, said his platform focuses on issues of poverty and fairness in elections.

Sparrow has spent less than $100 on his campaign so far, which is common for most of the 35 candidates who have little to no budget.

Candidate Captain Jack Sparrow, whose legal name is Captain Jack Sparrow, has stopped wearing his pirate garb in attempt to be taken more seriously.

Campaign fundraising for most of the 35 candidates lags far behind the top few candidates, and many candidates say this is keeping their voices from being heard.

“If we look at things at face value,” said independent candidate Edmund Bruyere, “I don’t think I stand a chance in hell.”

Bruyere said a Twin Cities business owner offered him enough money to purchase some advertising, but he denied it. This distaste for money in politics is a common thread among these peripheral candidates.

Last spring, some city officials tried making money more significant in city politics by raising the filing fee to run for mayor.

Currently, the only barrier to entry in the Minneapolis mayoral race is a $20 filing fee. When Minneapolis switched to the ranked-choice voting system, the primary election for mayor was eliminated, leaving just $20 and a completed form standing between a prospective candidate and a spot on the ballot.

In March, the city considered increasing the fee to $500 because some staff argued this could eliminate “frivolous” candidates and provide voters with a serious ballot.

The proposed hike was cut down to $250 as it moved through committees, but it eventually lost all steam at a public hearing in late April and the fee remains at $20.

Carney said the low filing fee is beneficial in getting all voices heard, adding that he thinks candidates shouldn’t always value winning as the most important thing in an election.

“The ability to get on the ballot for ($20) and to have a political principle is a real way to connect with people that I don’t think is happening,” Carney said. He said issues candidates help gauge public opinion and Carney hopes they elicit a response.

Bill Kahn, who is running on the principle of eliminating the position of mayor in Minneapolis, said he knows he won’t win. But he vows to keep his campaign website up after the election to keep his message out in the public.

“It’s something that’s worthwhile doing,” he said, “if I can motivate people in this election to think about changing government.”

MINNEAPOLIS MAYORAL RACE
CANDIDATE PARTY WEBSITE
Mark V. Anderson Simplify Government markvandersonformayor.org
Merrill Anderson Jobs & Justice merrillanderson1.com/
Mark Andrew Democratic-Farmer-Labor markforminneapolis.com
Neal Baxter Independent  
Troy Benjegerdes Local Energy/Food mayortroy.com
Alicia K. Bennett Democratic-Farmer-Labor  
Edmund Bernard Bruyere Legacy-Next Generation  
Bob “Again” Carney Jr. Demand Transit Revolution bobagain.com
Jackie Cherryhomes Democratic-Farmer-Labor cherryhomesformayor.com
Christopher Clark Libertarian Party lp.org
Dan Cohen Jobs Downtown Casino dancohenformayor.com
James Everett Green Party mplsforeverett.com
Bob Fine Democratic-Farmer-Labor fineformayor.com
Cyd Gorman Police Reform  
Mike Gould Democratic-Farmer-Labor  
Kurtis W. Hanna Pirate Party captainkurtis.com
John Leslie Hartwig Independent  
Betsy Hodges Democratic-Farmer-Labor betsyhodges.org
Gregg A. Iverson Democratic-Farmer-Labor  
Bill Kahn Last Minneapolis Mayor lastminneapolismayor.org
Jaymie Kelly Stop Foreclosures Now  
Tony Lane Socialist Workers Party themilitant.com
Doug Mann Green Party Facebook.com/mann4mayor
Abdul M. Rahaman “The Rock” We the people…  
Joshua Rea End Homelessness Now  
Don Samuels Democratic-Farmer-Labor samuelsformayor.com
Ole Savior Republican olesavior.org
Captain Jack Sparrow Count All Rankings occupirate.blogspot.com
James “Jimmy” L. Stroud Jr. The people’s choice  
Jeffrey Alan Wagner Democratic-Farmer-Labor facebook.com/jetblast
John Charles Wilson Lauraist Communist johnwilson4mayor.org
Cam Winton independent responsible inclusive wintonformayor.org
Stephanie Woodruff Democratic-Farmer-Labor woodruffmplsmayor.com
Rahn V. Workcuff Independence party  
Christopher Robin Zimmerman Libertarian crz.net