Our Revolution Twin Cities regrets demand for mayoral fealty pledge

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Will you commit not to veto any city council action supported by Our Revolution Twin Cities? the mayoral questionnaire said. "Yes," answered Ray Dehn, the only candidate to do so. Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

Kevin Chavis and the rest of the folks at Our Revolution Twin Cities were feeling the Bern this spring.

In continuing the crusade championed by vanquished hero Bernie Sanders, the political action group working to elect progressives submitted questionnaires to various Minneapolis city council candidates.

What it heard back from many of the aspirants gave Our Rev TC reason to be confident. Those feelings turned into hubris when 11 of the endorsed candidates eventually had strong showings during the DFL ward conventions. 

The organization, which has no official connection to Our Revolution Minnesota, would carry that momentum into the mayoral race. Its questionnaire to those seeking Minneapolis' highest  office was: "Will you commit not to veto any city council action supported by Our Revolution Twin Cities?" 

Only Ray Dehn agreed to give carte blanche to the group, or what Chavis says people are mistakenly calling "a pledge of allegiance to Our Rev." Instead, Chavis says, his group just wanted to get a better handle of who is on its side. 

"We looked at our success in the ward conventions, the fact that in 11 of the 12 conventions our endorsed candidates either won the nomination or blocked the nomination of a more conservative member of the council," says Chavis. "Basically the success of those 11 wards showed us that the council was going to change, and we wanted to make sure that the mayor who was going to be elected wouldn't just block those things. It was more or less trying to see where the mayoral candidates are as far as vetoing progressive legislation."

Our Rev TC would ride the wave of assumptions into a brick wall. It would soon come to find out not everyone shares it perspectives, Our Revolution Minnesota included.

"Requiring elected officials to yield 'veto power' to any non-elected entity shares more in common with the big money donors of the far right than the values of Bernie Sanders and progressive Minnesotans," the Minnesota group said in a statement.

Social media also went into hyper-drive after the Star Tribune's Adam Belz wrote a story about candidate questionnaires.

"Regardless of one's politics or preference in the mayor's race," read a Facebook post on May 22, "I believe responsible officials should not sign away their independence." 

In hindsight, Chavis says his group has learned from the experience. Among the lessons: Try not to pose questions that might "hurt our candidates in any way." 

"If we had to go about it [again]," he says, "we would have worded it differently. We would have added more context and express it in a different way than we did. We could've have shown that we're part of a larger progressive coalition -- that it's not going to just be us demanding things, which is how it's being portrayed."


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