The race for Minnesota’s Second Congressional District was upended last month by a tragedy — Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate Adam Weeks passed away suddenly.
According to Minnesota law, the Legal Marijuana Now Party is considered a “major party” in the state of Minnesota, and that triggers a law passed in the wake of former Sen. Paul Wellstone’s death. The law states that if a major party candidate dies in the run-up to the election, the election should be postponed — in this case, until February 2021.
Of course, the race really is a battle between Republican Tyler Kistner and Democratic incumbent Rep. Angie Craig. After Weeks’ death, Kistner immediately came out and said he supported changing the election date. Kistner’s campaign likely judged his election odds to be better if turnout wasn’t fueled by the presidential election, as CD2 has shifted “blue” over the last several election cycles.
Craig, on the other hand, has reasons to want the election to take place in November — the regularly scheduled date. She judges her odds to be more favorable if the election is held when normally scheduled. Even if she won a February election, a delayed vote would make her congressional seat vacant for a month.
Because of these concerns, Craig went to court to overturn the Minnesota law and keep the election in November.
A federal judge has now put the CD2 election back on track for November. The judge ruled that the Minnesota law requiring the election to be moved to February 2021 impeded “the right of Minnesota’s voters to vote in the November 3, 2020 general election.”
Craig celebrated the court’s decision. “I look forward to November’s election,” she said in a statement.
Kistner’s campaign is appealing the ruling to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. In a statement, Kistner said that the judge in question was attempting to “overturn state laws on the eve of an election.”
Kistner’s key claim is that his campaign stopped campaigning in anticipation of an election delay: “Based on the previous statements from Secretary of State Simon, numerous voters have reached out to our campaign and stated that they did not vote in the 2nd District race because they were told their vote would not be counted on November 3rd. Additionally, we canceled numerous TV and digital advertising buys, and refrained from sending out voter contact mailings.”
It is unclear whether or not the 8th Circuit will agree to hear the case with the election only three weeks away.