Cooler heads prevail at do-over of raucous DFL caucus - KMSP-TV

Cooler heads prevail at do-over of raucous DFL caucus

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Photo by Tom Lyden Photo by Tom Lyden

Wednesday night's take two went much more smoothly for DFL leaders as Cedar-Riverside residents cast their votes at the rescheduled caucus held at the University of Minnesota's Coffman Union.

The previous caucus was cut short a few weeks ago after police were called due to pushing and shoving. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed the second time around as about 500 enthusiastic people gathered to enjoy some new political clout.

There should be no delusion that democracy is pretty or easy, but hundreds of Somali-Americans boarded buses to watch as the backers of longtime Minnesota Rep. Phyllis Kahn faced off against political upstart Mohamed Noor.

"It's not about me. It's about you, it's about us," Noor said.

Kahn argues she has served the Cedar-Riverside community well, but tensions boiled over two weeks ago when the caucus at the Brian Coyle Center erupted amid allegations of voter intimidation. Ilhan Omar, a district co-chair and policy aide at City Hall, left that event with a concussion and a dislocated shoulder.

"I think there were certain individuals who were interested in disturbing the process," she said. "Sadly, I was a target in that process and hopefully, that won't happen again."

There was similar trouble at a nearby caucus in the Seward neighborhood. New City Councilman Abdi Warsame, a backer of Phyllis Kahn, was in the middle -- and he allegedly warned Omar she should stay away.

The stage was set for political drama a few years ago after redistricting efforts created a powerful new Somali voting block, but the new taste of political clout is mixed in with centuries' wroth of sometimes bitter clan rivalry.

"I was not proud on caucus night," former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak admitted. "Like so many others, I was deeply disturbed to hear of the chaos that took place. It was below the dignity of this great community."

As Kahn faced her toughest political challenger in 45 years on Wednesday, it was clear she was outnumbered by those supporting a new face in DFL politics. After the votes were cast, Noor claimed 28 delegates to Kahn's 15.

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