The August 9 primary elections in Minnesota will feature
an unusual double election in the state’s First District
The incumbent, Congressman Jim Hagedorn passed away
in February, triggering by state law a special election the
same day as the normal state primary day, August 9.
On the same day, CD-1 voters will choose party nominees
for the same seat in the regular election on November 8.
To make the voting even more complicated, the recent
redistricting boundaries required every 10 years by the
national census will produce different ballots in some
areas of the old and new district. Those voters living in the
old CD-1, but now in CD-2, will be able to vote in the
special election on August 9, but not in the CD-1 general
election primary on the same day.
While CD-1 has in recent years sent both Republicans
and Democrats (in Minnesota called Democratic-Farmer-
Laborites or DFLers) to Congress, the mostly rural area
is generally conservative and is rated as slightly
Republican. The largest city in the district, Rochester,
however, votes heavily DFL and makes the district
more and more competitive.
In addition to the two major parties, there are two minor
parties on the CD-1 ballot, the Legal Marijuana Now
Party and the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party.
Although each of their vote totals is usually very small
in November, their number could affect the outcome if
the election is close between the major candidates.
Since the two minor parties’ candidates run on very
liberal issues, they likely diminish the net total vote of
the DFL nominee more.
In the June CD-1 special election primary, FDA
official and former state legislator Brad Finstad
defeated several GOP opponents for his party’s
nomination. Former Hormel Company CEO Jeff
Ettinger defeated several opponents for the DFL
nomination. Political observers generally agree
that each party nominated its most electable
A published poll by a DFL pollster has Finstad
leading 48-47 with 5% undecided (4.5% margin of
error), but all national pundits rate the race strong
or likely GOP.
In another cycle, this race might be more competitive,
especially with a quality DFL candidate like Ettinger,
but 2022, the primary voting indicates, shows voter
enthusiasm of Republicans is notably greater —
caused no doubt by President Biden’s declining
popularity in Minnesota and elsewhere. With GOP
voter registration exceeding the Democrats’ number,
and two left-leaning minor party candidates on the
ballot, the Republican is favored in the special
On the other hand, turnout is traditionally low for
primary days, and the district is divided enough, for
surprise results. But clearly Brad Finstad has the
advantage in the 2022 cycle.
Copyright (c) 2022 by Barry Cssselman. All rights reserved.