The race for Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District in the May 24 special election will field eight GOP candidates seeking to fill the vacancy caused by the death of U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R).
The declared Republican frontrunner candidates include Hagedorn’s widow Jennifer Carnahan, Minnesota state Rep. Jeremy Munson, and former state Rep. Brad Finstad.
They will join perennial candidate Bob “Again” Carney Jr., Ken Navitsky, Roger Ungemach, Matt Benda, and Nels Pierson in the battle for the GOP nomination.
On the Democratic side, Jeffrey Ettinger will face challenger Richard Painter in the primary.
The winners of both races will advance to the Aug. 9 special general election to represent southern Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives.
On Feb. 18, Hagedorn lost his battle with cancer prompting the special primary to fill the remainder of his term by writ of Minnesota’s governor.
Passing Creates GOP Rift, Opportunity
Hagedorn’s passing also paved the way for what some observers have described as an acrimonious political battle for the GOP congressional nomination among the three top contenders.
As the former chairwoman of the Republican Party of Minnesota from 2017 to 2021, Carnahan resigned in August following the indictment of a prominent donor on charges of sex trafficking of minors.
Carnahan has accused some Republicans and leftist Democrats of running a “vicious smear campaign” against her following her resignation.
In an internal poll conducted in April, Carnahan said she has the support of 37 percent of likely GOP primary voters, which “makes clear that Minnesota Republicans have seen through [the] lies and continue to stand with me.”
“Establishment Republicans thought their vicious smear campaign would be enough to take me down,” Carnahan said on her official website.
“The Left has tried to cancel me before, but I will never be canceled. I will never accept the double standards or guilt-by-association they are so desperately attempting to attack me with.”
An ardent Trump supporter, Carnahan, as the legacy candidate, runs on her late husband’s record of accomplishments.
“My husband made history in 2018 when he flipped a U.S. House seat from blue to red; and under my tenure we grew our party, retired $1 million in debt, flipped three U.S. House seats from blue to red and turned Minnesota into a national battleground state for the 2020 Presidential Election,” Carnahan said on her website.
Though lacking Trump’s endorsement, Carnahan is bolstered by a campaign war chest of more than $400,000 compared to Munson, with $363,120, and Finstad, with $238,168, according to the Federal Election Commission.
On the critical issues, Carnahan said she believes in cutting wasteful government spending and supports state agriculture, and gun rights,
election integrity, law enforcement, and veterans.
Munson Wins Key Endorsements
Munson won a special election in February 2018 to replace Minnesota state Rep. Tony Cornish, who resigned following sexual misconduct allegations. He then won two-year terms in general elections in 2018 and 2020.
He served on the Healthcare Policy and Finance Committees in the Minnesota House for five years.
Munson also served as chairman of the 1st District Republican Party before his legislative career as a financial consultant. He was the chief author of a bill favoring term limits in Minnesota.
His key endorsements include Congressmen Thomas Massie, Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, the Republican Liberty Caucus, and conservative activist Morton Blackwell, founder, and president of The Leadership Institute, a non-profit education group.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), former Minnesota GOP Party Chairman, and former Minnesota Rep. Keith Downey have also thrown their support behind Munson’s run for Congress.
Munson said the crucial issues of his campaign are to make healthcare more affordable, and control inflation and national spending. He is decidedly pro-life and pro-law enforcement, and supports election integrity.
“While Americans are facing the worst inflation in 40 years and gas stations are preparing for $10 a gallon in some places, Biden has done nothing to help,” Munson said in a statement to The Epoch Times.
“As the fiscal and constitutional conservative in this race, I am the only candidate willing to say I will not vote to increase the nation’s debt ceiling.
“Our challenge has been reminding voters of my proven conservative record fighting COVID lockdowns, CRT, and out-of-control government spending, and working for election integrity.”
Finstad Boasts Trump Ties
Finstad, a former three-term Minnesota state representative from 2003 to 2009, has the backing of several key GOP officeholders, including U.S. Reps. Michelle Fischbach and Peter Stauber from Minnesota, U.S. Rep. William “GT” Thompson Jr. (R-Penn.) and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.
He served as former president Donald Trump’s appointed state director for USDA Rural Development in Minnesota from 2017 to 2021.
Finstad says he is “pro-gun, pro-family, pro-freedom,” and pro-business on his website.
Minnesota currently has 3,562,500 registered voters as of May 2. However, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office, state election rules do not require voters to register by party affiliation.