Aug 17, 2021 - Politics

Fourth contender emerges in Minneapolis mayoral race

A photo of Minneapolis mayoral candidate AJ Awed smiling.

Photo courtsey of AJ Awed's campaign

Another well-funded candidate has expanded the field of contenders vying for Minneapolis mayor.

Driving the news: AJ Awed reported raising $237,700 in the first seven months of this year. That's more than challengers Kate Knuth and Sheila Nezhad, but less than incumbent Jacob Frey, who raised $384,000.

  • Awed's report was received three days after the Aug. 3 deadline, so it didn't catch the attention of Axios or apparently other media covering the fundraising totals.

Who's Awed? Awed told Axios he was born in Somalia to war refugees. He dropped out of high school but eventually got a law degree from Mitchell Hamline School of Law, he said.

  • He's executive director of the Cedar-Riverside Community Council, an official neighborhood association.
  • He ran for Ward 6 City Council last year and lost to Jamal Osman.
  • And his donor list is long, including a large number of drivers for Uber, Amazon, school districts and trucking companies.

Where he stands: During last summer's riots, Awed went on MSNBC and raised the idea of abolishing the police and starting a new system from scratch. But Awed told Axios he was speaking more broadly about abolishing racism.

  • He said he does not support the Yes4Minneapolis charter amendment that would replace the Minneapolis Police Department and said the city in fact needs more police officers. Discussing abolishing the police, he said, is delusional.
  • "I think there's going to be a rude awakening in the city of Minneapolis with many of those people on that side ... convincing themselves that Black and brown communities are going to stand by them. (They are) are going to be left standing alone."
  • Awed said Frey has failed the city by letting the Third Precinct burn in the riots and because of the rise crime.

The other side: "In leading the city through unprecedented challenges, Mayor Frey has listened to Minneapolis residents, been honest about his positions, and stayed true to his values when candidates like AJ Awed were calling to dismantle and abolish the MPD last summer," Frey's campaign manager Joe Radinovich said in a statement.

The bottom line: Frey has gotten strong support from the Somali community in Minneapolis.

  • How a Somali candidate affects him in a ranked-choice election remains to be seen.

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