This year’s St. Paul mayoral race will once again feature ranked voting. There is no primary election–everyone who filed to run for office will be on the November general election ballot. Since there are ten candidates, it’s unlikely that any will get a majority on the first round. To make sure that your vote counts, you are allowed to vote for up to six candidates, and rank those candidates according to your preference.
For the official explanation of ranked voting, see the Ramsey County Elections website.
In the first round of counting, if one candidate gets a majority, then the race is over, and that candidate is the winner. This is the same as any other election. But that’s unlikely to happen. So the race will move to the second round. One candidate will be eliminated, and that candidate’s ballots will be physically removed from the count.
For the second round, the judges will take a look at the second choice of the removed ballots, and those ballots will be awarded to the voter’s second choice candidate.
Ballots are counted again, and another candidate is eliminated. This process continues until some candidate has a majority.
The key rules to remember are:
- If you really hate some candidate, then you should not vote for them at all. Even if you vote for them in last place, that is potentially a vote for them.
- Your second place vote will be considered only if your first choice has been eliminated from the race. Therefore, you should not vote for the same candidate twice. Your ballot will still be counted in the first round, but you do your candidate absolutely no good by voting more than once. The election judges will only look at the second choice if your first choice is already eliminated. And if you’re voting for someone who is already eliminated, the vote won’t count.
- Ranked voting gives you the opportunity to vote for someone you don’t think will win, without the proverbial risk of “throwing away your vote.” If your guy loses, then your second choice will still get your vote. And maybe your guy won’t lose. So there is a strong incentive to vote for the person you really want, even if you don’t believe that they will win. You’ll still get a chance to vote for your second choice.
Therefore, you are faced with coming up with a list of six candidates that you can live with, and you must rank them in order of preference. Since there are so many names, you might want to make a written list and bring it to the polling place. As long as you take your list home with you when you are done, this is perfectly acceptable.
And here is our list. We endorse the following candidates for mayor in the following order. We list only six, because that’s the maximum number we can vote for. The six on our list are better than the other four, in our opinion.
As explained below, here are our endorsements, in order:
You can find the list of all candidates at the Secretary of State website.
1. Chris Holbrook
Our first choice is state Libertarian party chair Chris Holbrook. Did you vote for Gary Johnson for president in 2016? We endorsed him, and I voted for him. I talked to a lot of people who wanted to vote for him but didn’t, because they didn’t want to “waste their vote” by voting for someone they thought would lose.
I never quite understood this. I thought the whole point of an election was to decide who was going to win, and you don’t know who wins until after people vote. So not voting for someone just because they’re going to lose doesn’t make a lot of sense. If you know to a certainty that your guy is going to lose, then you ought to just stay home. And if the other guy is going to win anyway, then you also may as well just stay home. But some people think this way, and that is their right.
But thanks to ranked voting, you no longer have to worry if your guy is going to lose. If he does lose, then your vote still gets counted, because as soon as your guy is out of the running, then they immediately count your second choice. And maybe your guy won’t lose!
So if you toyed with the idea of voting for Gary Johnson, here’s your chance. Johnson even endorsed Holbrook in 2014 when Holbrook ran for governor. Holbrook isn’t spending any money on the campaign. He’s not putting up signs. He’s not knocking on doors. But it’s about time that we elect a libertarian.
2. Tim Holden
Of the remaining candidates, we believe that Tim Holden best supports our fiscally conservative and free-market principles. Over the past decades, politicians have been quick to jump on board with programs that amount to welfare for millionaires. Whether it’s trains or stadiums, we believe that Holden is the least likely of the remaining candidates to advocate raiding the public treasury to finance some private business venture.
3. Trahern Crews
Our third choice is Trahern Crews. We probably differ with him politically on a great many issues, such as his support of the $15 minimum wage. But it does appear that Crews has a true heart for the poor, rather than just giving the poor lip service, which seems to be the norm these days. He opposed property tax exemptions for a private stadium, and he’s expressed skepticism toward organized trash collection, saying that he favors the free market.
We have no doubt that he will serve honorably if elected, and his proven reputation as a peacemaker in the community indicates that he will be respectful of opposing viewpoints.
4. Barnabas Joshua Yshua
We still have three slots we need to fill in order to complete our ballot. We don’t like many of the other candidates, but we conclude that perhaps Barnabas Joshua Yshua will rise to the occasion if St. Paul voters decide that he should be their mayor. Mr. Yshua is a resident of St. Paul’s Union Gospel Mission. He’s never held public office.
But he’s never voted in favor of running taxpayer funded trains down the middle of the street. He’s never voted in favor of using tax dollars to build a stadium for billionaire owners or millionaire players. And we hope he never will. He says that he has no political agenda other than helping others. We have no reason do doubt him, and without hesitation, he is our fourth choice for mayor.
5. Sharon Anderson
We still have two more slots to fill. The name Sharon Anderson has been on virtually every election ballot in Minnesota since the 1970’s. One year, she won the primary and became the Republican candidate for attorney general, presumably because her name was the same as a popular television personality. In press reports, Ms. Anderson’s name is almost always prefaced with the phrase “perennial candidate.” If you look up “perennial candidate” in the dictionary, you will probably see her picture. I’ve never voted for her before in my life, despite her name appearing on countless ballots. But there’s a first time for everything, and this year I’ll vote for her, because she is better than the other five candidates. She is my fifth choice to serve as mayor of St. Paul. I have no reason to believe that she will not serve honorably if elected, although I’m sure her tenure in office will be colorful.
6. Dai Thao
By the time we get to our sixth choice, we have to start dealing with the DFL, and we recognize that the DFL has made a mess of Minnesota politics. So we need to start thinking about the least worst of the remaining candidates. After giving the matter serious consideration, we conclude that Dai Thao is the least worst, and he is our sixth choice for mayor of St. Paul. He’s been accused of bribery, but the alleged conduct doesn’t strike us as being much worse than is typical of DFL politicians. Thao’s problem in that case seems to be that he was a bit indelicate in how he expressed the kind of proposition that many politicians engage in on a regular basis. At the very least, as a Hmong American, Thao does bring some needed diversity to city hall. In short, he’s better than the other four candidates. So through the magic of ranked voting, we have an opportunity to vote against those other four. Thao is our sixth choice for mayor.
This page was prepared and paid for by Richard P. Clem, and is not approved by any candidate or candidate’s committee.