St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly broke Democratic Party ranks on Sunday to announce his support for President Bush's re-election.
"George Bush and I do not agree on a lot of issues," Kelly said in a statement. "But in turbulent times, what the American people need more than anything is continuity of government, even with some imperfect policies."
Kelly, who said he's remaining a Democrat, said the economy is going in the right direction. "There's no reason to believe a change of course will produce better or quicker results," he said.
And the mayor said the United States will bring the troops home from Iraq a lot sooner if "we don't try to bring in a whole new leadership team to run the show. We must stay the course."
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who co-chairs the Bush-Cheney campaign in Minnesota, praised Kelly. "His bold decision is courageous and a welcome move toward working across party lines," Pawlenty said in a statement.
U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, the Bush-Cheney campaign's other co-chair in Minnesota, called Kelly's announcement "bipartisanship at its finest."
"Mayor Kelly recognizes that jobs are being created and that tax cuts have stimulated that job growth. He has done the same for St. Paul," said Coleman, Kelly's predecessor as mayor of Minnesota's capital city.
But the St. Paul DFL Party said Kelly "has traded the values of St. Paul for the agenda of the Republican Party's far right."
"Rather than advocating the needs of St. Paul, Mayor Kelly's decision to not support John Kerry's strategy for building our cities does the voters of St. Paul a disservice," the party said.
The Kerry campaign in Minnesota downplayed the move, saying it "isn't surprising given Randy Kelly's longstanding flirtation with the Republican party.
"John Kerry and John Edwards enjoy overwhelming support in St. Paul and the energy and excitement about their plans to make America stronger at home and respected in the world has only grown after the tremendous success of the Democratic convention," communications director Stacie Paxton said in a release.
Kelly, who was elected mayor in 2001, is up for re-election next year.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)