Craig to keep campaigning with 2nd District race in flux

Two side by side portraits one of a woman and one of a man.
DFL U.S. Rep. Angie Craig (left) and Republican challenger Tyler Kistner.
Evan Frost | MPR News and Submitted

Updated: 4:39 p.m.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig urged 2nd Congressional District voters Friday to proceed as though the election for her seat in November is still on amid uncertainty brought about by a candidate’s death.

Craig’s bid for a second term took an unusual turn this week when one of her challengers, Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate Adam Weeks, died. The cause of his death has not been released.

There is a Minnesota law that says a vacancy on the ballot this close to the election could push the entire contest into a special election next year. But federal law dictates that House elections are held in early November.

But in a new statement, Craig said there is confusion about what happens next.

“At this stage, there are still many outstanding questions,” she wrote. “You should continue to vote for the entire ballot, including for this congressional race. I can assure you that I am working tirelessly to get these answers as quickly as possible.” 

The state law would delay the contest until February and leave the seat vacant for at least a month. It’s possible a candidate or a voter will challenge that law.

On Thursday DFL Secretary of State Steve Simon gave voters advice that conflicts with Craig’s latest statement, saying votes in the congressional race wouldn’t be counted but every other race on the ballot would be tallied. Early absentee voting started a week ago.

Craig has not yet adjusted the advertising her campaign has purchased on Twin Cities television stations yet. On Friday, Kistner said he directed his campaign to “suspend all campaign advertising” out of respect for Weeks; it’s unclear how long that will last.

If the candidates slim their spending considerably, that would be a clear signal one or both believe the race will be postponed until next year and the need to conserve campaign money is paramount.

Craig said in her statement that “there is too much at stake in the next five weeks for us to let up.”

Kistner hasn’t commented on his strategy moving forward.

“We’re not making reckless political statements until Mr. Weeks has been laid to rest, and his family and friends have had time to grieve,” said Billy Grant, a campaign consultant to Kistner.

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