A federal appeals panel indicated Friday that the Republican challenger in a Minnesota congressional race is unlikely to succeed in his appeal to move voting in that race to February after the death of a third-party candidate.
A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Tyler Kistner’s request to put on hold a lower court decision that moved the election in Minnesota’s 2nd District — currently represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig — back to Nov. 3 after it was initially postponed to February. But the panel granted a request to expedite his appeal.
The judges ruled there are strong reasons for a uniform date for federal elections, and there must be compelling exigent circumstances for a state to be permitted to change the date. Because of that, the court said, “we do not think Kistner is likely to succeed on the merits of his contention.”
Kistner said in a statement that he will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Congresswoman Angie Craig has caused confusion and uncertainty around this election in what is nothing more than a desperate attempt to try to save her political career,” he said. He urged voters to continue to vote on Nov. 3 while he seeks appeal.
Craig said the panel’s ruling confirms the election will be on Nov. 3, and the winner will be seated in Congress in January.
“My opponent’s effort to delay the upcoming election would have left the hardworking families of Minnesota’s Second Congressional District without a voice in Washington at a time when critical legislation affecting our communities was being debated in Congress,” she said. “The courts have spoken – now it is time for (voters) to decide.”
The date of the 2nd District’s election became an issue after the Sept. 21 death of Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate Adam Weeks triggered a state law that postponed the contest to February.
Craig, who is seeking reelection in the competitive suburban and rural district south of the Twin Cities, went to federal court to move the contest back to November, arguing that federal law requires the election to be held Nov. 3.
A federal judge agreed with Craig and Kistner appealed, saying numerous voters told his campaign they didn’t vote in the 2nd District because after Weeks’ death they were told their vote wouldn’t be counted in November.
Attorneys for Kistner, a Marine Corps veteran making his first run for office, have said the lower court’s order is “sure to disenfranchise thousands of voters” who believed there would be no election Nov. 3.
Craig continued to urge her supporters to mark their ballots for her and other Democrats, even while the date of the 2nd District race was in limbo.
Early voting in Minnesota began Sept. 18. Those who skipped a vote in the 2nd District when they voted early or absentee had until Tuesday to go to their county elections office to have their ballot spoiled and receive a new one.
Craig is expected to benefit from the high turnout on Election Day. Kistner’s chances may have been better in a special election, in which Republicans tend to have a greater advantage from the lower turnout.