Election 2020

2nd District candidate Adam Weeks dies; special election needed

Updated: 5:22 p.m.

The sudden death of one of the candidates means voters in Minnesota’s south-suburban 2nd Congressional District won’t elect a new member of Congress on Nov. 3 as scheduled. Instead, the seat will be filled in a Feb. 9 special election.

Running for the 2nd District seat were incumbent Rep. Angie Craig, a Democrat, Republican Tyler Kistner, and Adam Weeks of the Legal Marijuana Now Party.

Voters in the district will still cast ballots for president and other offices in the November election. 

Weeks, 38, died unexpectedly on Sept. 21 according to his obituary. Because the Legal Marijuana Now Party’s candidate for state auditor received more than 5 percent of the vote in the 2018 elections, they qualify as a “major party” along with the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and the Republican Party, and another marijuana-focused party, the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party. And that means the provisions of a 2013 law apply, setting up a special election in February. 

Craig, the incumbent, will finish her term in Congress on Jan. 3. At that point the seat will become vacant until a winner is certified in the special election.

November’s ballot will still list Craig, Kistner and Weeks, and voters can vote for them, but the votes for the 2nd District race won’t be counted.

“I want to offer condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Weeks. The loss of any of us is a tragedy, and that’s felt especially in someone who has put his energy into a campaign to serve in public office,” Secretary of State Steve Simon said in a statement. "The law is clear on what happens next. If a major party nominee dies within 79 days of Election Day, a special election will be held for that office on the second Tuesday of February.”

Details about Week’s death remained unclear Thursday afternoon. Both Craig and Kistner expressed their sympathies for Weeks and his family.

“I am saddened to hear that Adam Weeks has passed away,” Kistner said. “Adam was a passionate advocate for the causes he believed in, and he will be missed by all those who knew him. We will be praying for Adam and his family and friends as they go through this difficult time.”

“I was deeply saddened to hear the tragic news of Adam Weeks’ passing earlier this week,” Craig said. “Cheryl and I are praying for the Weeks family during this difficult time.”

The special laws and rules enacted for the 2020 election, such as expanded deadlines to submit absentee ballots, will not apply in the February special election, unless future laws or court rulings instate them. 

Minnesota’s highest-profile death of a candidate right before the election came in 2002, when Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash on Oct. 25, eleven days before the election. Under the law at the time, Wellstone’s DFL Party picked a replacement candidate, former Vice President Walter Mondale, who narrowly lost to Republican Norm Coleman.

The 2013 law set up special elections for vacancies on the ballot that occur within 79 days of the election. The law was applied several years ago when the Minnesota Supreme Court kicked state Rep. Bob Barrett kicked off the ballot in a dispute over whether Barrett lived in his district. Republican Anne Neu won the special election to replace Barrett.