U.S. Rep. Angie Craig filed a lawsuit Monday to block the delay of the Second Congressional District election, which state election officials pushed to February after the death of a third-party marijuana legalization candidate.
Craig, a Democratic freshman incumbent, is competing with Republican Tyler Kistner for the seat that includes suburbs in the south metro and a wide swath of southern Minnesota. Legal Marijuana Now candidate Adam Charles Weeks died last week.
Kistner's campaign said it opposes the suit.
Under state law, the death of a major-party candidate less than 79 days before an election requires a postponement and special election. The Legal Marijuana Now Party narrowly qualified as a major party in Minnesota based on past election results.
Craig filed the suit in federal court along with Apple Valley resident Jenny Winslow Davies, arguing that their goal is to ensure the district is not left without a representative between the end of her term in January and the February special election.
The suit contends that the postponement would violate federal law and result in "direct, concrete, and irreparable injury" to Minnesota voters.
The Minnesota Legislature changed state law years ago to trigger a special election and avoid a rushed vote. The law was prompted by the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone 11 days before he faced re-election in 2002.
Secretary of State Steve Simon did not respond to a request for comment on the suit Monday. Simon, a Democrat, said last week that state law requires that the election be postponed until Feb. 9.
Kistner campaign spokesman Billy Grant opposed Craig's lawsuit.
"Angie Craig is trying to play politics with Minnesotans' voting rights. The law in question was passed in a bipartisan fashion with strong support from the Minnesota DFL Party after the tragic passing of Senator Paul Wellstone," Grant said in a statement Monday.
Both sides have spent heavily in a potentially competitive swing district that could ride on President Donald Trump's fortunes in the district. Trump will not be on the ballot in February.
Craig contends the district needs a voice in Washington. She urged voters to mark a choice for the Second District on their November ballots.
Jessie Van Berkel • 651-925-5044