Jun 13, 2022 - Politics

Trail mix: Andrew Yang's Forward Party stalls in Minnesota

Illustration of trail mix with elephant and donkey pretzels
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Welcome back to Trail Mix, Torey's occasional column reporting on Minnesota's midterm campaigns.

It appears Andrew Yang's new Forward Party won't be moving forward on the November ballot in Minnesota.

What happened: Less than four months after naming Minnesota its first target for state-level expansion, the upstart political effort failed get any candidates to run for office.

  • Its endorsed candidate for governor, former radio host Cory Hepola, suspended his campaign less than an hour before the filing period closed on May 31.
  • While Yang told Axios last month that organizers were talking to several other potential candidates, it appears none of them ultimately launched a bid.

Between the lines: Minnesota Forward Party chair Robert Phillips told Axios that Hepola and his supporters were unable to collect the roughly 2,000 eligible voter signatures needed to secure a spot on the ballot.

  • Phillips, a software engineer by day, cited communication issues with the Hepola campaign, insufficient time to build a coalition of supporters and his own inexperience navigating the political process as factors.

What they're saying: Hepola previously told Axios the campaign was "on pace" to hit the threshold but was also having "ongoing discussions on the viability of our campaign."

  • "I want to set up a 3rd party to be competitive and successful for a long time. ... Rushing it out when it’s not quite ready could do more damage to the brand," he wrote in an email.

Of note: A representative for the national Forward Party did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

What's next: Phillips said while the state group could still endorse candidates running with different party affiliations, organizers are turning their attention toward recruiting for the 2023 municipal elections.

No opponent? No problem

For more than a dozen candidates running this year, the path to victory is much more clear.

  • The reason? They don't have any opponents.

State of the races: Contests for 19 state legislative seats have only attracted one candidate this year.

Zoom in: Most of those races feature DFL incumbents in the Twin Cities.

  • Rival-less metro lawmakers on the ballot include Sens. Scott Dibble, Kari Dzeidzic and Ron Latz, as well as Reps. Esther Agbaje, Frank Hornstein and Jamie Long.
Quote du jour: A team of (former) rivals?
"As far as I'm concerned, anything in the realm of public safety and leadership is always going to have the name Mike Murphy associated with it."
— Jensen to reporters on whether his former rival for the GOP nomination, Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy, would make his short list for the post.

Flashback: Murphy played a "kingmaker" role at last month's GOP convention, endorsing Jensen in a dramatic fashion after multiple rounds of balloting.

Go deeper on Jensen's released public safety platform via MPR News.

Have a question or story idea about Minnesota politics? Drop a line to Torey at [email protected].

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