Petey Mac is back?

A word from Hennepin County Commissioner McLaughlin

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Peter McLaughlin made an appearance at a labor rally/protest in downtown Minneapolis Saturday afternoon. Judging from the reaction of many union members, it was the rarest of sightings since McLaughlin lost his bid to be mayor of Minneapolis in November.

"I told you about the crime," McLaughlin said aloud to no one in particular, referring to the issue he repeatedly hammered when he ran against incumbent Mayor R.T. Rybak last year.

But no one wanted to be seen gloating over an uptick in various street offenses, so the talk--on the corner of South 2nd Street and Portland Avenue, in front of the old Whitney Hotel--quickly changed to politics.

The labor support of McLaughlin is real, and several of the roughly 150 assembled under overcast skies starting quizzing McLaughlin on whether he might seek another office.

The moment was especially poignant because there was never a strong theory as to why McLaughlin ran for the mayor in the first place. His post on the Hennepin County board is by all accounts a quieter, yet cushier, spot to be in. In some ways, there's far more power there than could ever be found in the mayor's office.

So one school of thought had it that McLaughlin, a former state lawmaker, was simply chasing the mayoralship to gain a flashier profile to someday run for higher office. Martin Sabo's 5th Congressional District seat was often mentioned as McLaughlin's true political dream--and candidates have been rushing to fill Sabo's shoes since he announced his retirement two weeks ago.

So, how about that race, Commissioner? "I am very happy," he said, a little too loudly, "raising my seven-week-old."

It's true that McLaughlin just became a new father--the timing between that and Sabo's retirement cannot be lost on him. The words hung in the air a little acridly. Somebody mentioned Sabo's retirement again, and how uninspiring the candidates were. Big Mac refrained: "No, I'm very happy focusing on my seven-week-old."

And with that, talk turned to some other local races, with McLaughlin pointing out that he was running for re-election to the county board. There, he will face far less competition than the 14 candidates vying for the 5th District nod. So far he's only facing Farheen Hakeem, a Green Party candidate who managed to come in a not-totally-distant third behind McLaughlin in the mayoral campaign.



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