Tad Jude announces bid to replace Dean Phillips in Congress

The former longtime judge and legislator says he will bring his "nonpartisan" problem-solving record to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Tad Jude participates in a debate during his 2022 campaign for the Republican nomination for Minnesota attorney general. (Alpha News)

A former judge and longtime elected official on the county and legislative levels has thrown his hat into the race to represent Minnesota’s Third District in Congress.

Tad Jude officially announced he will be seeking the Republican endorsement to replace retiring Dean Phillips, a three-term DFLer, in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The promise of Minnesota and the promise of America need saving,” Jude said in his campaign launch announcement Tuesday morning. “We have urgent problems that need to be addressed. Community safety, a broken immigration system, and a budget running out of control are at the forefront. These challenges demand bold leadership, unwavering dedication, and a commitment to serving our communities.”

Jude, who served as a district court judge for a decade before retiring in 2021, is the fifth candidate to file his campaign for CD3 as a Republican. But he’s the first of the five self-declared Republicans seeking the CD3 seat who has been elected to office, according to filings with the Federal Elections Commission.

In fact, Jude, now 72, at one time held the distinction as the youngest person to be elected to the Minnesota Legislature at the age of 21, in 1972. In total he has served more than 28 years in elected office, across his terms in the state House, state Senate, county board and as a judge.

Once a pro-life DFLer, Jude switched parties 30 years ago

Jude, who was a DFLer while serving his first decade-long stint in the state legislature more than 30 years ago, switched parties in 1992 at the tail end of a seven-year stint as a state senator. He then ran (and won) as a Republican for the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, where he served a four-year term. He retired from politics in the mid-90s, but in 2011 he ran for judge in Minnesota’s 10th Judicial District and emerged victorious from among a field of 24 candidates.

Jude also ran two unsuccessful campaigns in 2022, first for the Republican endorsement for attorney general, which he lost to Jim Schultz. He then ran for Hennepin County attorney, but lost in a non-partisan primary, an election eventually won by controversial progressive Mary Moriarty.

During his 2022 campaign for attorney general, Jude explained that his party affiliation switch from a DFLer to Republican more than 30 years ago was precipitated by Democrats in the legislature increasingly becoming hostile over his pro-life views on abortion.

On his campaign website, Jude says he will bring his “nonpartisan” problem-solving experience  to Congress to advocate for policies that: curb inflation, regain control of the U.S. border with Mexico, eliminate bureaucratic waste and fraud and tackle out-of-control crime in many metropolitan areas.

Two progressives vying for DFL endorsement

Jude enters the race as the most accomplished in the field that also includes two DFLers: one-term state Sen. Kelly Morrison, and progressive political organizer and Democrat National Committee member Ron Harris.

Morrison is a longtime friend of Phillips and announced in November she’d be seeking to replace him in Congress, not long after Phillips officially declared he was mounting a longshot primary campaign against President Joe Biden.

A medical doctor by trade, Morrison is one of the most progressive DFLers in the state legislature.

She served one term in the state House but jumped to run for state Senate in 2022. She has authored a number of politically controversial bills in her short time at the Capitol, including a physician-assisted suicide proposal being pushed this session, a bill to implement ranked-choice voting statewide and a proposal to expand a mining ban by 1.9 million acres in northern Minnesota. She’s also been a sponsor for a handful of far-reaching legislative proposals to expand abortion access in Minnesota, including signing on as a lead author of the Protect Reproductive Options Act last session, which many consider to be one of the most extreme abortion laws in the country.

Sen. Kelly Morrison shakes hands with Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson in the Minnesota Senate chambers. (Photo by Minnesota Senate Media)

Harris has never served in elected office, but has risen in the ranks regionally and nationally within the Democratic National Committee. He entered the race at a time when Phillips had announced he was running for president. Harris has openly supported Biden for a second term and has cited that as the impetus for running against Phillips as he has spoken with media about his campaign for Congress.

Morrison has big cash advantage

While Jude’s entry to the race brings an unprecedented level of elected office experience to the race, the political veteran has a lot of catching up to do in the fundraising arena.

Campaign fundraising filings ending in December show Morrison has raised more than $400,000 in the first two months of her campaign. She had spent more than $100,000 during that period and had more than $300,000 cash on hand on Jan. 1.

Harris reported raising more than $93,000 by the end of 2023, and had about $22,000 cash on end on New Year’s Day.


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.