GOP seeks to flip Minnesota House seat held by Angie Craig

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig is fighting to keep her seat Tuesday in a high-stakes rematch with Republican Tyler Kistner that was the GOP’s best hope to flip a Minnesota district with control of the House at stake.

The race in the suburban/rural 2nd District south of Minneapolis and St. Paul was one of the most expensive in the country, attracting an estimated $30 million in outside spending — far more than the candidates’ own efforts.

Democrats’ best hope for a pickup in Minnesota was in southern Minnesota’s rural 1st District, where Republican Brad Finstad hoped to keep the seat he won in a special election in August over Democrat Jeff Ettinger. The seat became vacant when Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn died of cancer in February.

Finstad, a former state representative from New Ulm who served as state director for USDA Rural Development during the Trump administration, carried the GOP-leaning district in the lower-turnout special election by just under 4 percentage points over Ettinger, a former CEO of Hormel Foods.

Craig, a former medical device company executive and journalist, only narrowly won the seat in 2018 and 2020 after losing in her first attempt in 2016. She beat Kistner, a Marine Corps veteran, by just over 2 points in 2020. Redistricting preserved the 2nd District’s status as Minnesota’s truest swing district, but also added some 30,000 voters for whom both candidates were new.

Craig played up her firm support for abortion rights after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out its Roe v. Wade decision. Kistner, by contrast, struggled with how to address the issue in a district where suburban swing voters, particularly women, were seen as crucial. While Kistner described himself as “100% pro-life” in 2020, he spent several weeks ducking the issue. He finally said he was “pro-life, with the exception of rape, incest and life of the mother,” but that the issue should be left to the states.

Instead, Kistner stressed pocketbook issues, saying Craig bore responsibility for inflation and other economic woes because she supported President Joe Biden’s policies.

Craig touted her work to shape the bipartisan Inflation Reduction Act, which she said will cut the deficit, lower health care costs and promote renewable energy. She also highlighted her work to control insulin and other prescription drug prices.

A pro-cannabis candidate was a wild card in the 2nd District race. Paula Overby of Legal Marijuana Now died in October but remained on the ballot. Overby drew nearly 8 percent in 2016. A different candidate from the same party drew 6 percent in 2020 despite dying a few weeks before the election.

Minnesota’s other House incumbents were expected to win re-election easily, including Tom Emmer, the head of the GOP congressional campaign committee who hopes to become majority whip if Republicans take control of the House. He represents the suburban/rural 6th District north and west of Minneapolis.

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