Rep. Angie Craig, who represents Minnesota’s 2nd District, filed a lawsuit Monday to block the state from postponing her election because of the death of a third-party candidate in the race.
The situation has thrown into chaos not only the reelection contest but also the congressional representation of the 2nd District’s voters in Congress early next year. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said the 2nd District would hold a special election on Feb. 9 and, since ballots had already been printed, that votes cast in the race for November would not be counted.
That seemed to mean that the seat would remain vacant through the potentially crucial first weeks of the 117th Congress, which will convene in January. Craig, a first-term Democrat, faces Republican challenger Tyler Kistner, a Marine veteran. Adam Weeks, the Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate running for the seat, died last week, according to news reports.
“The people of Minnesota’s Second Congressional District deserve to have a voice fighting for them in Washington,” Craig said in the legal challenge, according to a statement from her campaign. “Unfortunately, the process currently in place would deprive Minnesotans of their seat at the table at a time when critical legislation affecting our state will be debated — including bills to rid politics of special interests, ensure quality, affordable health care for every Minnesotan and safeguard our family farmers.”
Kistner said last week that he had “directed my campaign to suspend all campaign advertising after the passing of Adam Weeks out of respect for his family and friends. Marie and I will continue to pray for them during this difficult time.”
Billy Grant, a spokesman for the Kistner campaign, said: “Angie Craig is trying to play politics with Minnesotans’ voting rights. The law in question was passed in a bipartisan fashion with strong support from the Minnesota DFL Party after the tragic passing of Senator Paul Wellstone.”
Wellstone died, along with his wife, his daughter and two campaign staffers, in a plane crash less than two weeks before the 2002 election.
“Despite Secretary of State Simon being crystal clear that there will be a special election in February, Angie Craig is trying to rewrite laws to disenfranchise voters. The people in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District will not be fooled,” Grant added.
Craig said it wasn't about politics but about making sure voters in the district have a voting representative in Congress early next year.
“Hardworking second district families are entitled to representation in Congress, and that’s why I’m taking action today to ensure that the election this November proceeds as mandated by federal law,” Craig said in her statement. “I strongly urge every voter in the 2nd Congressional District to continue to mark their ballots, and I will continue to fight to ensure that every Minnesotan has the representation they deserve in Congress next year.”
Craig’s campaign had $2.6 million as of July 22 and Kistner’s had $488,000, according to the most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission. Weeks had not filed a disclosure, possibly indicating he had not raised or spent enough to meet the $5,000 threshold requiring a filing. Craig won in 2018 by about 5 points against then-Rep. Jason Lewis, a Republican who is now challenging Democratic Sen. Tina Smith in November.
Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Democratic.