Updated Aug 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Republican Brad Finstad wins special election for Minnesota House seat

Brad Findstad standing at a podium with a flag next to him
Brad Finstad. Photo courtesy of Finstad for Congress

Republican Brad Finstad won a special election to fill the remainder of late U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn's term in southern Minnesota's 1st Congressional District, the Associated Press reports.

The big picture: Finstad, a former legislator and USDA rural development director, defeated Democratic nominee and former Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger.

Background: Hagedorn, a two-term GOP congressman, died in January of kidney cancer at age 59.

  • Finstad defeated a slate of rivals that included a conservative state legislator backed by the Freedom Caucus and the late congressman's wife, former Minnesota Republican Party chair Jennifer Carnahan, to win the GOP nomination in a May special primary.

Between the lines: The expansive southern Minnesota district was considered a swing seat in recent elections. Hagedorn won by less than a percentage point in 2018, ending more than a decade of DFL control.

  • But political leanings in the largely rural district in farm country have shifted in the GOP's favor.

What's next: Finstad and Ettinger will go head to head again in November, when voters will decide who goes to Washington for a full term in the redrawn district.

What they're saying: Ettinger conceded Wednesday morning, saying that the "voters of Southern Minnesota have spoken. I want to congratulate Brad Finstad on winning the Special Election last night."

  • "Though I had hoped to celebrate different news with you all, there is plenty for which to be hopeful. We won big in our primary, we outperformed pundits and polls, and we have momentum in a new, advantageous district," he added.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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