Ness and Bell: Tuesday showdown

I need to hold off my predictions until closer to the election. This is my third prediction for the Duluth mayoral election tomorrow. I had said that Bell would win by 8, but that was before another of Bell’s poor choices of words and resulting public tussle — this time over the issue of a race.

Duluth remains a solid DFL town and, thus, offending young professionals and minority groups is a real good way to alienate the whole place. Bell made news after the primary by suggesting that his opponent Don Ness had his priorities out of whack for running for mayor with a young family at home. Then, late last week, he suggested that the crime problems in Duluth stemmed from people who “don’t belong here,” clarifying that that would include people from Mississippi or Detroit which added racial overtones to the comment. I don’t think Charlie Bell is such a bad guy and might be an OK mayor, but he’s very prone to these distracting comments and Duluth voters might be done with that. Ness has run a disciplined but overly slick campaign and hasn’t handled the perception of him being too young or opportunistic as well as he should have. That said, I think he’s got the potential to be a great mayor if he remains willing to challenge all of the many groups who influence Duluth politics. My new prediction: Ness, 51-49. The variable is a somewhat more conservative groundswell that I see growing in Duluth that might favor Bell. In truth, this one’s a tossup.

Tune in Tuesday for election results. WDIO of Duluth has demonstrated complete superiority in election reporting. They’ll tell you first how wrong I end up being in this prediction.

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