Former GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan announces run for late husband’s seat 

Carnahan joins a crowded field of candidates seeking to fill the First Congressional District’s vacant seat.

Jennifer Carnahan speaks at the Minnesota GOP's election night party in November 2020. (MN GOP/YouTube)

Former Minnesota GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan announced Monday that she will be running for her deceased husband’s seat in Congress.

U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn passed away last month at the age of 59 after a three-year battle with kidney cancer.

“Though my heart is still heavy after Jim’s passing, the encouragement I have received from throughout southern Minnesota has inspired me to carry on his legacy by running to complete the remainder of his term,” Carnahan said.

“In the final weeks before his passing, Jim told me to keep forging ahead, to keep reaching my dreams, and to win this seat,” she added.

Carnahan joins a crowded field of candidates seeking to fill the First Congressional District’s vacant seat.

A special election for the vacant seat will take place on the same day as the statewide primary, which is Aug. 9. A special primary for the seat will be held on May 24. Both the special primary and election will be held under the old congressional district boundaries, whereas the statewide primary on Aug. 9 will be held under the new boundaries.

The winner of the special election will serve the remaining few months of Hagedorn’s term.

Carnahan resigned as chair of the state party last August after donor Anton Lazzaro was arrested on federal sex trafficking charges.

Background: Anton Lazzaro/Twitter. Right: Anton Lazzaro mugshot/Sherburne County Jail

Lazzaro was allegedly a close friend of Carnahan, who “actively encouraged his complete immersion into the party structure and the homes of activists and donors,” Republican National Committeewoman Barb Sutter said at the time.

Several former GOP staffers then accused Carnahan of creating a culture of “grudges, retaliation, and intimidation.”

The GOP’s executive board voted 8-7 to give Carnahan a $38,000 severance package, and Carnahan reportedly cast the deciding vote.

“Like President Trump, I am a businesswoman and fighter. Here in Minnesota, I disrupted the status quo and brought the Republican Party back to relevance,” Carnahan said. “Now, I ask for the support of southern Minnesota to do the same in Washington.”