We attended last night’s meeting of the Rules Committee of the St Paul City DFL and can conclude the proposed rules are merely the result of collusion between the Dai Thao campaign and the Pat Harris campaign structured to forgo an endorsement at the city convention on June 17th. As we have said before the existence of Ranked Choice Voting in November Devalues the DFL Endorsement and the campaigns have responded in turn.
There were four specific maneuvers which impinge the endorsement. 1) a limit of the balloting to four ballots, 2) a casual drop rule applied after the 2nd ballot of 10%, 3) a 5:00 pm deadline for the convention to end, and 4) a movement of the school board endorsement ahead of the mayoral endorsement.
In the committee, the three campaigns of Thao, Harris and Melvin Carter III were about equally represented, but the Thao and Harris campaigns had a shared mutual interest in there being No Endorsement and voted on the proposed provisions as such. One glaring reality is to see upgraded alternate Darren Tolbolt, the former St Paul City DFL Chair, now a Harris supporter, voting in favor of these rules. By his acts alone, he undermined the DFL endorsement process, one which his former position is charged to defend.
Each of these rules hampers the endorsement from occurring. The ballot limit is a tried and true way to prevent an endorsement because it is often through sheer will the endorsement occurs and when the process allows fatigue and the upgrading of alternates, more movement can occur, but a restriction of ballot prevents this natural progression. Secondly, because of the number used it provides an opportunity for three candidates to be on the 4th ballot. This means no candidate walks away with a loss. The 5:00 PM deadline, appears to be an appeal to cultural sensitivity, which is something the convention organizers failed to do because the date falls on Ramadan, and members of the Somali Community seek a reasonable endpoint to the proceedings to be able to break their fast. Finally, the one way to hold people at a convention is by holding the biggest contest first. This is clearly an endorsement focused on the mayor’s race.
We did hear one novel idea, which was to use Instant Runoff Voting as a drop rule and means to use one ballot to winnow the field down to two candidates, prior to a head-to-head contest. We understand this will be included in a minority report to the convention.
We congratulate the Thao and Harris campaigns for their blatant maneuvers to assure if they don’t get the endorsement no one will. The rules passed on an 8-6 vote.