Oct 14, 2022 - Politics

Angie Craig and Tyler Kistner clash in 2nd Congressional District debate

Photo illustration of Angie Craig, tinted blue, and Tyler Kistner, tinted red, separated by a white halftone divider.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images and Jaida Grey Eagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Angie Craig and Republican Tyler Kistner clashed over abortion and the economy in the first and only debate scheduled for Minnesota's sole battleground congressional race.

The big picture: The rematch in the suburban 2nd Congressional District is expected to be one of the most competitive — and expensive — in the nation.

  • Control of the U.S. House could hang in the balance.

The big issues: The economy and health care dominated the debate, which was hosted by the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

  • Kistner blamed "out-of-control" federal spending by Democrats and a lack of investment in U.S. energy sources for inflation, while Craig argued government aid during the pandemic saved businesses in the district and touted her work on a major spending bill Democrats say will reduce the deficit.
  • On healthcare, Craig pointed to a provision in that legislation allowing Medicare to negotiate some prescription drug prices. Kistner, who opposed that overall bill, said he wants to look at opening up more pharmaceutical markets to foreign companies.

Yes, but: Some of the most heated exchanges were over abortion and the 2020 election.

Zoom in: Craig blasted Kistner as “too extreme” for the swing district, claiming he tried to "hide his abortion stance" by changing his website from 2020.

  • She pointed to national reports categorizing the Republican as an "election denier" and accused him of trying to “invalidate the results of the 2020 election" with court challenges.

The other side: Kistner accused Craig of being "dishonest" and suggested she might need a hearing aid in order to stop misrepresenting his positions.

  • He said he is “pro life” but supports exceptions for rape, incest and health of the mother, and that he accepts that President Biden won the 2020 election.

Of note: Speaking to reporters after the debate, Kistner declined to say whether he would support the 15-week ban introduced in the U.S. Senate.

  • He said he has not reviewed the bill, which was rolled out in mid-September.

What to watch: Voters have already been bombarded with more than $6.5 million in spending by outside groups, per OpenSecrets. Most has gone to negative attack ads.

  • Congressional Leadership Fund, a GOP-aligned group, just announced plans to pour another $900,000 into the race.

Yes, and: It's to be seen how last week's unexpected death of Legal Marijuana Now candidate Paula Overby will impact the contest.

  • Another pro-legalization candidate posthumously secured nearly 6% of the vote in 2020, when Craig defeated Kistner 48%-46%.

Situational awareness: In recent elections, Minnesota was home to as many as four swing seats in Congress.

  • But redistricting and shifting political winds in both directions mean the 2nd Congressional District is now the state's only remaining true toss-up seat.

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