So Long Old DFL?

Doug Grow had an interesting column in today's Strib. He argues that Mpls Mayor RT Rybak's 37 point victory of DFL challenger (Hennepin County Commissioner) Peter McLaughlin represented a repudiation of the "old guard" Democrats in favor of the new.

Peter McLaughlin and his supporters are the '60s turned gray. McLaughlin had a noble liberal background, he had an all-star lineup of the DFL's old guard supporting him and he had big labor.

And they all sank like a stone. McLaughlin got just 37 percent of the vote against R.T. Rybak, the incumbent mayor who obviously has won over just about everyone -- except the old guard.

As a former staff member at the Mpls City Council, and DFL party hack, (in my past life), I know some of these folks probably took this bit pretty hard:

Look who McLaughlin had supporting him. Former mayors Sharon Sayles Belton and Don Fraser.

Former Council Members Jackie Cherryhomes, Tony Scallon and Joan Campbell.

But the key word here is "former." As in, "Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall," because it's 2005 and the old party's over.

The time has come for some sort of change in the DFL scene in MN, but I'm not sure that Rybak (or anyone else now - or yet) represents that change. We might still be at the stage where we know what we want don't want, but don't know what we want.

Arvonne Fraser's comment is a low blow, not something we've come to expect from someone of her intellect:

Arvonne Fraser, a longtime progressive activist of considerable stature as well as the spouse of Don, was a classic McLaughlin supporter. Liberal. Serious. Old.

What does she see in Rybak?

"Charm," she said. "We've seen a lot of charming young men elected recently. Tim Pawlenty, Norm Coleman, Rybak. They're not bad people -- but only charming."

She believes the electorate is in a state of denial, not prepared to take on the serious issues of the day.

Former St. Paul Mayor George Latimer has the last comment:

. . . Latimer, 70, believes there's more to Rybak than meets the eyes of some of us graysters. He has an ability to make complex issues understandable. He has a good heart. He enjoys his work.

And his opponents -- even once-rising stars such as McLaughlin -- can't lay a glove on him.

Latimer listened to the last debate between McLaughlin and Rybak.

"You could just hear the frustration in Peter's voice," said Latimer. "He was getting angry, and R.T. was as cool as he could be. I've been in Peter's shoes. You know when it's over."

Stay tuned.


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