MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Primary Election Day, there’s a Minneapolis race for the statehouse that’s had shoving matches, fist fights and claims of voter intimidation.
That’s why the city is doing something it has never done before. Sergeants-at-arms have been assigned at polling places in key precincts to make sure there are no problems.
It’s all part of a bitter primary between longtime incumbent Phyllis Kahn and Minneapolis School Board Member Mohamud Noor.
Khan is a 42-year incumbent and was first elected to the seat in 1972. Noor is counting on a high turnout among Somali-Americans.
City officials say there have been no incidents so far at any of the precincts were the sergeants-at-arms have been stationed. Wayne Johnson is the sergeant-at-arms at the Brian Coyle Community Center, and he says the only minor incident he was involved in came when someone was campaigning to close to the polling place.
“We just had to tell them they had to back off,” Johnson said. “But other than that, it’s been real calm.”
As for turnout, a Minneapolis election official tells WCCO that the city is hearing via social media reports that turnout in House District 60B precincts is up to three-times greater than other precincts.
The race between Kahn and Noor has been unusually bitter. At a district caucus in February, there was a shoving match and fist fights, all caught on cellphone video.
During absentee voting, there have been allegations of voter intimidation.
Khan spent much of the day at her headquarters. She says Noor does not have a lock on the Somali vote, and she has been endorsed by Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame.
“Looks like it’s going well, but we are calling our party an election party and I slap anyone down who tries to call it a victory party,” Kahn said.
And while many Minnesotans might struggle to name state representative candidates, the Kahn – Noor battle is the marquee event in these precincts, with passionate supporters on each side.
Will Hebert voted for Kahn.
“She has broken down barriers that I can’t even believe in my lifetime,” Hebert said.
Faysal Omar is backing Noor.
“I know him a long time,” Omar said. “He’s a very honest person, and I just will have to vote for him.”
WCCO did reach out to Mohamud Noor and did not hear back.
Another important factor is that early absentee voting in District 60B was five- to six-times greater than at other Minneapolis precincts — so this race could well be decided by those votes.