Republican Mayoral Candidate Denied Entry to Debate

Jonathan Honerbrink’s campaign is alleging political discrimination by the UMN’s Humphrey School.

Jonathan Honerbrink, candidate for mayor of Minneapolis speaks to crowd in North Minneapolis for campaign kickoff (Preya Samsundar/Alpha News)

MINNEAPOLIS – A mayoral forum scheduled for tomorrow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs is proceeding in spite of one candidate’s objections to being non-platformed.

Jonathan Honerbrink, the only declared Republican candidate for mayor of Minneapolis, has waged a thus far unsuccessful campaign to get himself included in the event, which is scheduled for noon Tuesday at Cowles Auditorium in the Humphrey School. The event is co-sponsored by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ve made probably 10-20 calls,” Honerbrink said. “I’ve made at least a dozen myself, sent several emails, they haven’t said no, they just haven’t said yes.”

Honerbrink told Alpha News that organizers have listed several criteria they set for candidates to qualify for the mayoral forum, but Honerbrink believes he’s met all of them.

“They said I didn’t enter the race until May, which isn’t true,” Honerbrink said.

The community activist’s official campaign launch was on April 21. Among others, Honerbrink was in contact with Larry Jacobs, the Director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance in the Humphrey School, regarding his involvement in the event.

The Humphrey School told Honerbrink other criteria included active campaigning – including meeting with voters and a regularly maintained website – or prospects to impact the election, either by winning or drawing a significant amount of votes away from other candidates. Candidates must meet at least one of these criteria.

“In an effort to ensure that the conversation can move beyond surface questions, it was important to limit the field,” the Chamber of Commerce’s President and CEO Jonathan Weinhagen said. “This is always challenging early on in the election cycle when there isn’t polling data to use as a cutoff for front runners.”

Weinhagen also said that the Chamber of Commerce had primarily been billing the event as a conversation leading up to the DFL convention.

Honerbrink claims to be continuously engaging voters and to be polling ahead of some candidates who were invited to the event. His website does include an up-to-date, if sparse, list of upcoming events.

He is accusing the event’s organizers of engaging in “political discrimination” against him because of his party affiliation, since he believes he has met all of the Humphrey School’s criteria for participation.

“I couldn’t see another reason, there hasn’t been anyone who even wants the Republican nomination,” Honerbrink said. “Anyone who gets the Republican nomination in Minneapolis typically pushes it to the back. It’s like trying to run for mayor of Green Bay in a Vikings jersey.”

Honerbrink is considering a number of options in response to being non-platformed, including a potential lawsuit against the Humphrey School.

Candidates who will participate in the forum include Rep. Raymond Dehn, community activist Al Flowers, Minneapolis Council Member Jacob Frey, former Hennepin Theatre Trust President Tom Hoch, incumbent Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, Dr. Nekima Levy-Pounds, and filmmaker Aswar Rahman.

Captain Jack Sparrow, a perennial candidate, and Jeffrey Sterling Olson also participated in an April 8 forum at Shiloh Temple, prior to Honerbrink’s entry into the race.

Jacobs did not return Alpha News’ requests for comment.

Anders Koskinen