Councilwoman Cano gains endorsement after candidates walk out

A big fight for the DFL endorsement for City Council in Ward 9 in Minneapolis ends in charges of racial bias. Councilwoman Alondra Cano ended up with the endorsement only after two other candidates and their supporters walked out of the Ward Convention at South High School.

The acrimony followed a number of challenges to delegates to the convention, which had been settled prior to Saturday’s proceedings. One candidate, Mohamed Farah, said the challenges mostly targeted Somali delegates.

Alondra Cano clearly had the most support among the delegates Saturday but by late afternoon, had consistently fallen short of getting the 60 percent threshold needed to gain the DFL endorsement.

Her supporters voted to suspend the rules and keep going, much to the chagrin supporters of her challengers, Farah and former Council Member Gary Schiff.

In the end, Farah and Schiff didn’t wait for the results of the fourth ballot, which was also inconclusive, and walked out along with their supporters.

“This has been the worst time that I've ever witnessed within the DFL. If you are voting for me, we are walking out right now,” Farah said on the convention floor before his microphone was cut off after he was ruled out of order.

Outside the auditorium, Farah called Saturday’s proceedings and the earlier delegate challenges part of a pattern.

“They sent a clear message to the Somalis, to the immigrants that 'we do not want you in our party,'” Farah said. “’Either it's our way or the highway, and guess what, we're going straight to the highway and we're going to meet them at the general election.”

For her part, Cano said the challenges were not racially motivated, but a normal part of the process.

“If there are questions about whether people signed in or showed up to the right precinct, those are fair questions to ask of anybody, regardless of your background,” Cano told Fox 9.

Cano said her efforts now turn to trying to unify the ward ahead of November’s election. She has already picked up the endorsement of State Rep. Ilhan Omar.

"The work is to continue the unification that we started in our ward,” Cano said.  “As you saw today, we had a very broad and diverse, multiracial coalition of folks that are working on our campaign and are supportive.”

But Saturday’s events made clear, it may be awhile before tensions between the respective camps cool.