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Papa John Kolstad, IRV and Pizza

While the mainstream news reports on Papa John’s pizza, and its founder’s retrieved Camaro, the political world has been percolating the story about a unique, independent candidate running for Mayor of Minneapolis, who happens to be called “Papa John.” Papa John Kolstad received his nickname as a blues singer. He will be running on the ballot name “Independent Civic Leader”. John Kolstad — and ten of his electoral opponents — will be running under the Instant Runoff system (IRV). While this Papa John has nothing to do with free “Papa John’s Pizza” or Camaros, it just so happens that IRV and proportional voting has been explained to people using the “What topping will people vote for on their pizza?” method. See an example at here.

IRV, which has been newly instituted in Minneapolis elections (see video in support of IRV: here), will make this a very interesting race. To start with, there are eleven candidates for Mayor. If theories about IRV prove true: There should be less mudslinging, because it is less effective under IRV. Each voter’s choice should be better expressed, because if there is not an overwhelming majority, and someone’s first choice does not win, her second choice will be counted. And, any so-called “spoiler effect” cannot occur in any way.

The Green Party has not endorsed anyone in this race. Though, in 2006, John Kolstad (now not registered in any political party) was the Green Party endorsed candidate for Attorney General. In addition, Al Flowers, another Mayor candidate, has connections to greens, though he will be running on the “Truth to the People” banner. Flowers has the personal endorsement of Farheen Hakeem, a former Green Party candidate, and newly elected national Green Party Steering Committee member. Al Flowers also appeared at a recent  Green Party, “Fire the Minneapolis Chief of Police” press conference, and was the only Mayor candidate to do so.

On the Republican and conservative side of this race, there are also interesting line-ups. The Republican Party has recently endorsed John Kolstad. Though, another candidate, Bob Carney, Jr., had wanted to run under the banner “Moderate Progressive Republican.” The elections supervisors would not allow Carney this particular combination (using an idea and a party), so he is fighting the decision, while running under the banner of “Moderate Progressive Censored.” Christopher Clark will run under the banner of Libertarian.

There is a link to the official list of Minneapolis Mayor candidates at the city web-site: here. And below is a list of the candidates, and the words that will appear next to their names on the ballots. Candidates were allowed to chose to list on the ballot a political preference or an official party.

List of candidates for the 2009 Mayor of Minneapolis Election

Dick Franson: Democratic-Farmer-Labor

John Charles Wilson: Edgertonite National Party

Tom Fiske: Socialist Workers Party

R. T. Rybak (incumbent): Democratic-Farmer-Labor

Joey Lombard: Is Awesome

Bob Carney Jr.: Moderate Progressive Censored
(wanted to be called “Moderate Progressive Republican”)

Al Flowers: Democratic-Farmer-Labor

Papa John Kolstad: Independent Civic Leader

James R. Everett: Social Entrepreneurship

Bill McGaughey: New Dignity Party

Christopher Clark: Libertarian


Story by Kimberly Wilder of


  1. Susan Kolstad Susan Kolstad October 30, 2009

    Find out what Papa John Kolstad has to say by looking at his website:
    This year in Minneapolis is unique because with RCV the challenging Mayoral candidates are working together to defeat the incumbent. To Eric O: You are right. Papa John is not a Republican. He does have the endorsement of the Minneapolis Republican Party which is not the state party. They find they share concerns about the way the city is being run. He also has the endorsement of the Minneapolis Independence Party. Was first asked to run by Green Party members. Papa John is running as a independent – no party affiliation.

  2. Ross Levin Ross Levin August 31, 2009

    Clay, I think that fewer people will read these comments that I’ve seen you post on various websites!

    I think one of the reasons that IRV is probably the most well-known alternative voting system is that there are communities trying it and Fairvote is doing a great job of promoting it in practical ways. Why aren’t you trying to get communities to adopt range voting?

  3. Clay Shentrup Clay Shentrup August 31, 2009

    Typical mythology about IRV:

    – fixes the spoiler problem
    – substantially reduces mudslinging
    – allows voters to fearlessly vote sincerely

    All completely false. I wrote about that here:

    Score voting and approval voting are two simpler and far superior methods that election reform advocates should look into. The problem is that FairVote (the main force behind IRV in the US) really wants to get IRV because they believe they can make a transition from IRV to the proportional representation method called STV (IRV is just the single-winner form of STV).

    Because of that goal, they want IRV regardless of whether it’s actually helpful in its own right. Thus they make a lot of false and misleading claims about score voting and approval voting, not to mention IRV. Unfortunately the subject is so math-heavy that many innocent bystanders are duped.

    I wish more IRV proponents would demonstrate some substantive amount of knowledge about election theory, rather than just parroting false and misleading claims about it. It’s an unfortunate waste of limited reform resources.

    William Poundstone’s book, “Gaming the Vote”, is excellent, but I think too few people will ever read it. I look at it as something that ought to be a staple of any political science curriculum.

  4. Michael Cavlan Michael Cavlan August 29, 2009


    We are now an official political committee.

    All we need to become an official minor party is to run a state wide candidate and win 1% of the vote.We are working and building on that, as we speak.

  5. Melty Melty August 29, 2009

    All I’m doing is shining some light on the darkness that surrounds a voting method mostly referred to in the U.S. as ‘instant runoff.’

  6. Ross Levin Ross Levin August 28, 2009

    What happened to the Open Progressive Party?

  7. Michael Cavlan Michael Cavlan August 28, 2009


    As promised.

    PaPa John Kolstad is a fairly well known Minneapolis musician, celebrity,activist with the Single Payer group MUHCC (MN Universal Health Care Coalition) Co-founder of MIBA (Minnesota Independent Business Alliance, small business owner and former GP endorsed candidate for Attorney General. PaPa John was one of four state wide GP candidates in 2006. He, myself for US Senate, Ken Pentel for Governor and Dave Burger for State Auditor.

    I would like to point out that Ken Pentel, myself and PaPa John are all running for office, just not as Greens any more. Dave Burger has disappeared from the scene.

    PaPa John is a wonderful human being, who constantly introduces me as “this guy is a radical, keep your eyes on him” with a smile on his face.

    PaPa John left the GP because of their ineffectual self immolation and because of the Ccam Gordon supporting Minneapolis Mayor RT (Tear gas and support brutal cops ) Rybak.

    PaPa, Ken Pentel and myself are in a new organization called the New Broom Coalition.

    link here

    We are still new, still working and organizing. We, including myself and Papa John have made some good alliances with (good) Ron Paul, Campaign For Liberty Republicans.

    The Greens, instead of asking why so many people are fleeing the GP are busy, arguing and bickering away, silencing dissent and generally being useless. Almost like it is intentional. If you catch my drift.

    So while Melty and the GP are arguing, we are building and organizing.

  8. Melty Melty August 28, 2009

    Ross, I’m suspicious of this professional organization promoting IRV. I doubt that their leaders do not know that they’re making false claims.

  9. Melty Melty August 28, 2009

    Dave, all methods are vulnerable to strategic voting. If you want strength of preference, then Range is good. To rate like you would a youtube video on five stars, that’d be Range6. (Approval can be thought of as Binary Range . . . I know, one star ain’t many stars to work with)
    So, Dave, if under Range 6, it looks like you might have wanted to vote something like . . .
    Nader 5
    Gore 1
    Bush 0

    Strength of preference does not work with IRV, because it’s possible to lower a candidates chances of winning by putting her higher on your list, and it’s possible to raise your candidates chances of winning by putting her lower on your list.

  10. Ross Levin Ross Levin August 27, 2009

    I read that book “Gaming the Vote,” and it makes a great argument for range voting. It’s probably the best tool you guys have. I’m surprised you don’t promote it more.

    And Kimberly is right – you guys should be less confrontational. It turns a lot of people off (including myself). One of the reasons IRV is so popular is that there’s a successful, professional organization out there promoting it and getting communities to try it.

  11. Dave Schwab Dave Schwab August 27, 2009

    Approval voting doesn’t allow voters to express strength of preference, meaning that it’s still vulnerable to strategic voting.

    Should I approve Gore and Nader to stop Bush? Or just Nader, since I don’t want to help Gore beat Nader? *head explodes in voting booth*

    Nader – yes!
    Gore – whatever.
    Bush – fool me twice…. ya don’t get fooled again.

  12. Melty Melty August 27, 2009

    “There has to be a better way for you to build your own thing, and stay out of our way.”

    Who do you mean by “our”?

    I have friends in Mipples, and IRV is getting in their way.

    “Or, just kind of co-opt the IRV message in a more healthy way.”

    There’s nothing healthy about IRV. That’s why I refuse to let these false claims go unchecked. I bring up Approval and Range simply because they actually do the things IRV proponents falsely claim IRV does. It’s healthy for supporters of upstart parties to be aware of this.

    IRV is burdensome. It’s so elaborate, it takes whole hours to develop an understanding of it and its glitches. That’s why I offered the link on my name @4. It elucidates well and briefly.

    I sympathize. Vote-ology hardly makes for pleasurable reading (though I find it somewhat intruing myself). If it’s all too much to look at, I suggest just keeping a healthy suspicion of any voting method that has a complex counting process.

    In contrast, Approval Voting is refreshingly simple. It couldn’t be simpler. Here’s Approval:
    voting directions – Choose the ones you want.
    counting process – Tally.

  13. Kimberly Wilder Kimberly Wilder August 27, 2009

    Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    There are probably three of you — or maybe it is just you — who chime in on every conversation about “approval voting” or “range voting”.

    You should probably do the dialogue differently. Because, I am exactly the kind of person who could help get a change like that made. But, you only annoy me, and don’t cause me to study it.

    You should probably see it as taking people who were woke up to the potential of IRV and refining their vision, and giving them even better tools.

    The way you do it just makes me go – CRAP! Something else I should know about and have no time to study.

    There has to be a better way for you to build your own thing, and stay out of our way. Or, just kind of co-opt the IRV message in a more healthy way.


  14. Melty Melty August 26, 2009

    yup, IRV-proponents making false claims as always

    Under so-called “Instant Runoff,” “spoiler effect” occurs. Click on my name for a link to vote-ology expert Kathy Dopp and start on page three at the bottom.

    If you want no “spoiler effect” then try Approval Voting or Range Voting.

  15. Michael Cavlan Michael Cavlan August 26, 2009

    Oh but a quick teaser.

    This rabid supporter of Single Payer and small local business is not a Republican. Although he is supported by the (good) Ron Paul types of Republicans in Minneapolis.

  16. Michael Cavlan Michael Cavlan August 26, 2009

    Papa John Kolstead is a personal friend and political ally of mine.

    I have much information on this (including why this former 2006 Minnesota Green Party Attorney General is not running as a Green) but it will have to wait.

    This Registered Nurse is just getting off of a 12 hour shift.

  17. Eric O Eric O August 26, 2009

    I’m sorry. Kolstad is a Republican? Since when?

Comments are closed.