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Arguing with Trump was really good for Jacob Frey’s Twitter follower count

Let’s not call it a “Trump bump.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told MinnPost he expected the tweet to get some attention.
MinnPost file photo by Tiffany Bui

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey had just returned from a run Tuesday morning when his staff informed him that President Donald Trump was tweeting about Minneapolis, and, more specifically, about him.

“The lightweight mayor is hurting the great police and other wonderful supporters. 72,000 tickets requests already. Dump Frey and Omar! Make America Great Again!” Trump had tweeted that morning, a reaction to Frey saying the city would not pay the $530,000 costs of security for a Trump rally scheduled at the Target Center Thursday.

Before long, Frey had fired back with a response: “Yawn… Welcome to Minneapolis where we pay our bills, we govern with integrity, and we love all of our neighbors.”

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Frey told MinnPost he expected the tweet to get some attention — after all, the national news cycle was coming to his backyard — but he didn’t expect to be caught up in quite this much publicity. It was all over the national news after Frey held a press conference affirming his position. And Frey’s initial Tweet has gotten way more likes than he did votes when he was elected in 2017.

Frey’s Twitter following more than doubled almost overnight. The mayor’s account went from having 23,000 followers Monday to more than 50,000 Wednesday. As of publication, the account had more than 59,000 followers.

Jacob Frey's Twitter follower count
Note: Follower count for 10/11 was as of roughly 9 a.m. Friday.
Source: Social Blade, Twitter

Much of the positive response to Frey’s tweet was from people near and far registering support for the mayor’s opposition to Trump. But there was also some notice of the Minneapolis mayor’s looks.

“This week, the mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, entered the public discourse (a.k.a. I became aware of him) not just for feuding with Donald Trump, but for the simple reason that he is totally kind of hot,” wrote Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz in the Cut.

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Frey told MinnPost the support was welcome. “Of course, I appreciate positivity, because as a mayor, it’s usually fleeting and another issue will come along where you’re getting beat up pretty good,” he said.

Besides, not all the attention was positive. Frey has also been the target of anti-Semitic comments and threats in recent days.

When it comes to response from Minneapolitans, though, it was “overwhelmingly” supportive, he said.

That’s not entirely shocking. While Trump came closer than any Republican in recent memory to winning the state, Minnesota’s biggest city voted for his opponent by a 68 percentage-point margin.

Progressive bona fides

Frey hasn’t always been celebrated by left-leaning voters and activists.

In the run-up to the mayoral race in 2017, which came down to five contenders who ranged from center-left to more left, Frey was criticized for not being progressive enough.

Recently, Frey has been criticized by activists for a proposal to add 14 police officers to the city’s roster. Open government activist Tony Webster tweeted “Oh?” in response to a Trump campaign statement calling Frey a “radical leftist.”

But even among critics, Frey has gotten appreciation for his recent stance on the Trump rally.

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“I don’t often support Frey, but when I do, he looks like this,” wrote Twitter user @ColeBSoul, retweeting one of Frey’s tweets criticizing Trump.

Whether it helps him in the long run remains to be seen. On Thursday night, Frey took flak as Minneapolis police sprayed some at the escalating protests against Trump with chemical irritants.

As things escalated, State Rep. Aisha Gomez, who represents Minneapolis, tweeted that she was in communication with Frey about the use of chemicals by police on crowds, something she said she viewed as the wrong way to handle them.

“It’s on camera that they’re pepper spraying people so now it’s on the Mayor,” protest watcher @NettiePearl01 tweeted.