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Judge's ruling puts competitive Minnesota House race back on track for November

Judge's ruling puts competitive Minnesota House race back on track for November
© Bonnie Cash

A federal judge set up a competitive Minnesota House race to take place next month after the sudden death of a candidate in the contest appeared to set up a February special election instead. 

Judge Wilhelmina Wright of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota granted an injunction requested by Rep. Angie Craig (D), the district’s representative, against enforcing the state law that would have delayed the election until February.

The ruling comes after Adam Weeks, the Legal Marijuana Now Party’s candidate running against Craig, died suddenly in late September. The timing of his death, just 40 days before the election, triggered the state law delaying the contest. The law was first passed in 2013 and postpones a contest if a major party candidate dies within 79 days of Election Day. 

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Under the law, the race would remain on the ballot this year, but votes tallied for the district would not be counted.

Wright said the law would “unconstitutionally burden the rights of voters who have, or otherwise would, cast their ballots in the general election” and that “Representative Craig will suffer irreparable harm absent this Court issuing a preliminary injunction.”

The judge also noted that if no election is held in November, the constituents of the district will be without a representative between the time the next Congress is inaugurated and when the victor of the February special election is sworn in.

“If a preliminary injunction is not granted, two public-interest consequences will undisputedly occur. First, all votes cast for Minnesota’s Second Congressional District in November will be discarded. Second, every constituent in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District will have no representation in the United States House of Representatives for more than a month,” wrote Wright.

The ruling puts the race in the St. Paul-area district back on track for November, setting up a contested battle between Craig and Republican Tyler Kistner. Craig won the district in 2018 by about 5 points, but President TrumpDonald TrumpSt. Louis lawyer who pointed gun at Black Lives Matter protesters considering Senate run Chauvin found guilty as nation exhales US says Iran negotiations are 'positive' MORE beat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' MORE in the suburban district by just 1 percentage point in 2016.