How to Beat ICE in Your Hometown? Run for Sheriff, Like Dave Hutchinson.

Dave Hutchinson.

In February of 2017, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek met with President Donald Trump at the White House. The president was busy promoting his newly enacted Muslim ban, and the two quickly found common cause. “You have a big problem with the refugees pouring in, don’t you?” Trump said, according to a transcript. Stanek replied, “Yes we do, sir … and the proper vetting of individuals is really important to us.” Later, Stanek, a Republican, would praise Trump in comparison to former President Barack Obama. Over the next year, Stanek would come under fire for helping Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in identifying, detaining, and deporting undocumented Minnesotans.

Now, angered by Stanek’s mistreatment of immigrant communities and alleged mismanagement of the sheriff’s department, veteran police officer Dave Hutchinson has decided to try to defeat the three-term incumbent. To win, he’s going to have convince hundreds of thousands people who have grown used to supporting Stanek over three elections to channel some of their anger at the Trump administration—and especially at ICE—into a local race they are used to ignoring.

Minnesota is a swing state, but Hennepin County, which encompasses Minneapolis and some surrounding suburbs, is one of the most liberal counties in the United States. Hillary Clinton won Hennepin County by 34 percent. Minneapolis has not had a Republican mayor since 1973. Stanek won in 2014 by over 100,000 votes as a staunch Republican, about the same margin of victory in the county as the Democrats who swept statewide offices. Sheriffs don’t get identified by party on the ballot, though, which means that name recognition can overcome party affiliation.

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