Tuesday, July 12, 2022

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR : A Minnesota Special Election

The August 9 primary elections in Minnesota will feature 

an unusual double election in the state’s First District 

congressional .contest.

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. 

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