Rep. Craig sues to keep 2nd District election in November

A woman with dark hair wearing a blue suit jacket
Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday to keep the 2nd District election in November after the death of a marijuana party rival threatened to push the election to February.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News 2019

Updated: 5:25 p.m.

The federal courts will decide if Minnesota’s 2nd District Congressional election occurs this year or next after incumbent Democratic Rep. Angie Craig sued to keep it in 2020.

Craig filed a federal lawsuit Monday along with a voter in the district. 

The death of Adam Weeks, a candidate from a Legal Marijuana Now Party, threw the race in doubt last week. A state law says when a vacancy on the ballot occurs so close to the election, the contest is postponed until the following February. 

But Craig argues that federal law requires that congressional elections be held in November and a postponement isn’t allowed. She said the district’s voters would be deprived representation for at least a month after the next Congress is sworn in come January.

“The assurance that federal elections will happen, as scheduled, every two years has long been a part of the country’s democratic tradition. It is an integral piece of the rules and norms that ensure the vitality and legitimacy of the democratic process,” the lawsuit states. “And it is unequivocally mandated by federal law.”

Craig is in her first term and being challenged by Tyler Kistner, a political newcomer who has the Republican nomination. Kistner adviser Billy Grant criticized the Craig lawsuit.

“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," he said. "The people in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District will not be fooled.”

A quick ruling could matter because voters are being told they should skip the race on their ballots because the votes won’t be tallied. Notices have been placed in each precinct about the postponement. 

Craig said that notice along with similar guidance from Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon is creating confusion. She has asked for an injunction to remove the postponement notices and compel officials to certify the November results.

“The death of one candidate in a race does not preclude Minnesota from holding an election for the 2nd Congressional District in the regularly scheduled general election,” Craig’s lawsuit said. “States, of course, hold elections all the time even when a candidate passes away unexpectedly close to the election.”

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