Nov 10, 2022 - Politics

Minneapolis reformers score a win with Moriarty

Mary Moriarity

Mary Moriarty. Photo courtesy of her campaign

Mary Moriarty's victory in the Hennepin County attorney's race is giving new hope to criminal justice reform advocates.

What's happening: Moriarty ran as a reformer and scored a 58-42 win over Martha Holton Dimick, who ran on a tough-on-crime platform.

Why it matters: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey's re-election in 2021 paired with a failed ballot measure to do away with police staffing minimums deflated many progressives who wanted major police and criminal justice reform after George Floyd's murder by former officer Derek Chauvin.

  • But on Tuesday they scored a big win and now have a top prosecutor who has promised to pursue alternatives to prison and vowed to hold cops accountable.

What they're saying: "I suspect that in the land where George Floyd was unfortunately murdered, people are still concerned about holding the police accountable. And I think that that helped Moriarty quite a bit," said David Schultz, political science professor at Hamline University.

Between the lines: Some crime — especially homicide — has declined this year from a 2021 peak and wasn't nearly as top-of-mind as in last year's city election, said Kendal Killian, who managed Moriarty's campaign the first half of the year.

  • "There really wasn't this crime fear in the suburbs," he said. "We were talking to Democrats, and Democrats this year were just not going to fall for that crap."

The bottom line: Look for changes at the Hennepin County attorney's office as Moriarty's takes over for Mike Freeman, who is retiring.

  • "One of the criticisms of Freeman has been that he's unwilling to press really hard police misconduct issues and prosecute police ... I suspect she may take a more aggressive approach," Schultz said.
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