The close of business on Tuesday, Aug. 13 marked the deadline to file for the mayoral race in Minneapolis, and a total of 35 candidates tossed their hat into the ring by the end of the day.
Late last year, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak decided not to seek a fourth term after 12 years in the now-coveted chair. Beyond a host of all-new options to choose from, the introduction of ranked-choice voting means Minneapolis voters will have an election unlike one they've seen before.
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This may be a strongly-contested mayoral race, and it's likely to be unusual, colorful and unpredictable as the campaigns kick off. The road to the top of City Hall began at the bottom in Room One, where all it took was a driver's license and $20 to get on the ballot.
It's a crowded and sometimes comical field, with candidates like Capt. Jack Sparrow -- yes, that is his legal name -- and perennial candidates like Ole Savior and Bob "Again" Carney Jr. There are also plenty of unknowns, including Abdul Rahaman, also known as "The Rock" whose motto is, "We the people."
The new ranked-choice voting system will allow voters to get a first, second and third choice on the record, and candidates say that system is leveling the playing field.
"Other methods of voting, they are forced to choose between two credible choices they don't really like rather than the fresher choices," Rahaman said.
The ranked-choice voting system could also lead to a new kind of campaign strategy because being everyone's No. 2 choice could just land a candidate in the mayor's office. That could provide a little incentive for the candidates to be nice to one another.
Mark Andrew, a former county commissioner, is considered one of the front runners, but he doesn't believe candidates should pull any punches.
"I think it's a good strategy, but the number one obligation is to draw a contest between himself and herself and the opposition," Andrew said.
Yet, voters will probably be faced with three pages of ballots come November along with plenty of names they may not recognize. Tallying results on Election Day will likely be interesting as well, since a No. 1 choice must gain at least 51 percent of the vote to be declared the outright winner. If that doesn't happen -- and it's not very likely -- candidates who can't win will start being eliminated as second and third choices are considered.
The city also has 130 new vote counting machines, but it still could take a few days to declare a winner.