DFL grapples with third controversy over Minneapolis endorsements
Voters cast their ballots at Edison High School in Minneapolis Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Photo by Nicole Neri/Minnesota Reformer.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor endorsement convention for one Minneapolis ward was canceled amid allegations of phony delegates.
The convention for another dissolved into a chaotic melee on Saturday.
Now, a candidate in another ward plans to challenge 126 of the delegates during the upcoming endorsing convention.
The Ward 6 convention will be meeting virtually Saturday, but Kayseh Magan, a former investigator with the Attorney General’s Office, plans to challenge dozens of delegates for candidate Tiger Worku.
Magan said many of Worku’s delegates had the wrong addresses on their forms, and some told him they didn’t sign the forms, including two Republicans. Others’ names were misspelled, and 30 phone numbers were scribbled off the form and instead assigned a Proton email address.
In March, one of the supposed delegate signups, Gerald Lattery, said he remembered seeing Worku in the lobby of his apartment building and said he’d consider voting for him, but never agreed to be a delegate.
“I’ve never been associated with the Democratic Party,” he told the Reformer.
The Minneapolis DFL canceled its endorsing convention for Ward 5 amid allegations of irregularities in delegate signups.
The party saw similar anomalies in Wards 5, 6 and 10, according to a DFL source with knowledge of the situation who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak to the media: “It seems like there was a strategy to exploit some of the weakness in the caucus process.”
Nasri Warsame was a newcomer who announced his Ward 10 candidacy a day before the deadline, but signed up more delegates than City Council Member Aisha Chughtai. The endorsing convention devolved into chaos Saturday when Warsame supporters took over the stage as Chughtai was preparing to give a speech.
Warsame supporters began shouting, jeering and pushing toward the stage, prompting Chughtai’s supporters to take cover in her hospitality room. The convention was shut down and police were called. Chughtai said over a dozen supporters were assaulted, while Warsame claimed his campaign manager was assaulted.
The state DFL executive committee will meet Thursday, when Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin plans to propose two new bylaws to give the state party more authority to ban people from seeking endorsement or participating in the process.
“There’s no space or room in the DFL Party for people who are coming in to essentially commit acts of violence and terroristic acts like they did on Saturday,” he said. “So we’re gonna make sure on Thursday that we go after them pretty hard.”
Now DFL officials must contend with this third controversy over their endorsements — which carry no legal weight, but are much sought after in the heavily Democratic city.
Magan wants the Ward 6 endorsing convention canceled, too. Worku signed up the most delegates, while incumbent Jamal Osman finished third. But Magan found nearly 37% — or 183 — of the people who signed up to be delegates listed emails through an encrypted email service called Proton Mail, and all but two signed up to be delegates for Worku. Of those, 126 were selected to become delegates or alternates. Magan contacted some of Worku’s delegates, and none said they use Proton email.
Worku said Magan has spent the days leading up the convention “attempting to smear the reputation of our campaign,”but he’s confident “we will perform well at the convention” on Saturday.
Worku previously told the Star Tribune his campaign set up the emails for delegates because many are “older immigrants who don’t use email or have smartphones.” Worku told the Star Tribune he planned to have delegates use campaign laptops to vote at the endorsing convention from his campaign office.
Magan is concerned that because the Ward 6 convention is being held virtually, Worku will be able to vote on behalf of the disputed delegates via computer. Some of the conventions for the 13-ward City Council election are being done virtually, and some in person.
At this point, the state party has balked at directly intervening in the Ward 6 convention.
Martin said the party’s constitution requires the convention’s credentials committee to hear challenges to the seating of delegates and make a recommendation to the full convention as to recourse.
Minneapolis DFL chair Briana Rose Lee said the credentials challenges will be voted on by all of the delegates at the convention.
Magan questioned whether the disputed Worku delegates would be able to vote on the challenged delegates as each is considered.
“He won’t be able to do that,” Martin said.
According to the DFL constitution, “No delegate shall vote on a challenge brought to that delegate’s seating.”
If Magan believes the process is handled improperly, he can appeal to the state party, Martin said.
This story was updated at 11 a.m. Wednesday to reflect Worku’s statement.
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