Appeals court won’t block Rep. Craig victory in 2nd District

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. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to toss out a judge’s ruling that allowed the 2nd District race to proceed despite the death of a third-party candidate.
Evan Frost | MPR News and Submitted file

A federal appeals court declined Friday to overturn Democratic Rep. Angie Craig’s victory in this month’s 2nd Congressional District election.

The new ruling says that the Nov. 3 election was OK to proceed despite the death of a third-party candidate. The late-September death of Legal Marijuana Now Party nominee Adam Weeks put a state law into play that might have forced a special election next year.

Republican candidate Tyler Kistner sought to enforce that state law and noted that state officials initially told people that votes wouldn’t be tallied in the race.

But the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals says a lower court judge who ruled in Craig’s initial lawsuit was right to look to federal law instead of Minnesota’s statute regarding timing of the election.

“Even assuming for the sake of analysis that federal law permits a state to cancel an election and thereby to produce a ‘failure to elect’ in certain extraordinary situations, we think federal law would allow that course only in truly “exigent” circumstances,” the judges wrote in their unsigned opinion.

Appeals judges say the district’s constituents would suffer harm if they were left without a representative when Congress convenes next year so an injunction was warranted.

Craig won her second term by about 10,000 votes over Kistner. Weeks posthumously received about 25,000 votes.

The race is among those due for formal state certification next week.

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