It's an embarrassing political blow that could signal a close election, but on Wednesday, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Deputies Association voted against their current boss to support Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek’s opponent in the upcoming election.
With 87.5 percent of the rank-and-file voting Tuesday, 75 percent of the members voted to endorse Minneapolis Police Assistant Chief Eddie Frizell. Only 9 percent voted to endorse Stanek, and 15 percent voted not to make any endorsement at all.
Frizell formally announced his candidacy at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. On paper, he looks quite qualified. He currently serves as a deputy police chief in Minneapolis and is a colonel in the National Guard. Yet, his biggest campaign plug is that he's not a politician.
"You'll find I'm always a straight shooter," he pledged. "I'm not a career politician. I'm really not."
The statement marked a not-so-subtle dig at Stanek, who has earned a reputation for loving the photo op and proximity to power. In fact, his frequent flyer status appears to be annoying his own deputies -- especially since some are among the lowest-paid police officers in the metro.
The irritation is rooted in a bit of local history as well. Some members of law enforcement thought Stanek took all the credit at press conferences for the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, even creating a training video that looked more like a campaign commercial. As for Frizell, he says he was actually in the Mississippi River on that day in August, saving people.
"There's a disconnect," Frizell said. "There's a disconnect in the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office."
Stanek declined requests for an interview, but his campaign released the following short statement about the new challenger in the race:
“The election this fall will give everyone who lives in Hennepin County the chance to decide who is the best person to be sheriff. We respect everyone who is involved in this process and strongly believe that Sheriff Rich Stanek’s outstanding record clearly makes him the best person to continue to keep people safe across Hennepin County."