What if one of the mayors is elected Minnesota governor?

With the mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis playing it a bit coy these days — both running for re-election as mayor this fall, while sending out some not-so-subtle hints about their plans to run for governor — the question arises: What if one of them wins?

First, Republicans would be sad, because Mayors R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis and Chris Coleman are both DFLers.

Here’s a look at what would happen under either mayoral scenario, plus how legislators running for governor would fare:

If Rybak wins another mayoral term in November and then is elected governor next year, the city charter declares that the City Council president fills in as mayor until a special election is held.

As of now, Barbara Johnson is council president, but all 13 council seats are up for grabs this year, and for the first time, city residents will use Instant Runoff Voting, so the outcome and process could be very interesting. The new council then elects its own president, so it’s not known who would be would be council president in late 2010/early 2011, when a Gov.-elect Rybak would step down.

The city charter calls for a special election within 75 days:

Section 16. Vacancy in Office of Mayor and Council Members–How Filled. Whenever any vacancy shall occur in the office of Mayor or in the office of any Council Member prior to March 1st of the year of the general City election for the office of Mayor or Council Member, it shall be filled for the unexpired term by a special election ordered by the City Council and held City-wide if the vacancy is in the office of the Mayor or held in the applicable ward if the vacancy is in the office of a Council Member. The special election shall be held within seventy-five (75) days after such vacancy shall occur.

For the purpose of selecting the candidates to be voted on at such special election, the Council shall fix the dates for filing of candidates for such office which shall be for a period of not less than eight (8) days, and the closing date for such filing shall not be less than forty (40) days prior to the date fixed for the special election. All provisions of this Charter pertaining to special elections shall apply to any special election provided for by this section, except as otherwise specifically provided herein.

Until the vacancy in the office of Mayor has been filled by the special election, the then President of the City Council shall take the oath of office of, and become, and shall be styled Acting Mayor for the interim period, and as such shall exercise all the powers and discharge all the duties of Mayor, and while so acting shall be entitled to the salary of Mayor, but such salary shall be in lieu of, and not additional to, the salary as Council Member in [the] event such person shall occupy both offices.

St. Paul
The Pioneer Press beat me to the punch on this with its Saturday story, which explained the process.

If Coleman is re-elected mayor in November and would then be elected governor a year later, his deputy mayor, currently Ann Mulholland, would fill in for up to 30 days. During that time, the City Council would meet to appoint an interim mayor. The council then would set up a special election to fill the mayoral vacancy, although it’s unclear how soon that election would take place.

Both mayors are in the sticky position of convincing their constituents that they are focused enough on their city’s issues to warrant re-election, while at the same time positioning themselves for the state-wide run. State Republicans,notes the Star Tribune, have complained:

that although Coleman is running for reelection as mayor his expenditures are “part of a broader and more sophisticated effort” to run for governor.

Rybak, according to Republican Party officials, has also surpassed the $100 legal threshold in spending that required him to formally register his gubernatorial campaign.

And Rybak was endorsed by a large Teamsters local last week — for governor.

Those running for governor — and there’s a passel of them on both sides of the aisle — won’t have this dilemma. Both parties will hold their endorsing conventions in spring, so sitting legislators with gubernatorial aspirations will know if they’ve received party endorsement for governor long before they have to file in July for their House or Senate seats.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 10/01/2009 - 09:14 am.

    Never Vote For a Pretty Face:

    So now it could be metro mayors running for gov?

    Where to begin…first these two will have to strip off suits and ties. Buy a nice, plaid shirt. Even blue will do. Rub a little cow dung on their Wellingtons. Smear a wee bit of mine soot on their faces, and head for the Iron Range.

    Let’s hope Greater Minnesota will recognize these two action figures as city boys with a toy train whistle understanding of the needs of Greater Minnesota, as they have been too concerned with building fast rail commutes all around their own twin towns…even extended to Chicago.

    Meanwhile the northern part of the state sits disconnected with overloaded highways and no passenger railroad alternatives ever recognized in the greater picture. Sure, I know, there’s possibly one coming down the tracks in the future; but it will be a long time coming and the need is now.

    Ever hear of Work Trains? Twin-town tourists think of Greater Minnesota as the land of tall pines and big fish; trinket town…but decent jobs are fading fast. Let anyone speak up on the need for rail connector lines that promote the state as an integrated landscape with mutual, holistic expectations rather than the lesser for the “Greater”, and the greater for the “lesser”?

    Why I could even picture T-cities as a bedroom community to Duluth if the right governor candidate came down the pike – whomever he/she is, wins the seat?

    Either way, and as one infamous hobo said during the big Depression…”Never ride the caboose if you want to engineer your own destiny. You can’t see where they’re taking you…”

  2. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 10/01/2009 - 11:42 am.

    Error: Train service to Duluth is to begin again in a year or two.

    By your tone, you seem to think very little of a pair of mayors who have strived mightily, and succeeded most of the time, to cope with a governor who starved the Twin Cities (and every county and almost every other city or town) by withholding the state aid they were entitled to.

    These are good guys and can be recognized as such even if they ignore your insulting (to them and to farmers) suggestion that they dress down and put manure on their shoes.

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