Contested August primaries are now set in a handful of Minnesota congressional districts and in the Republican race for attorney general, after the filing period closed to run for office this cycle.
Republican Doug Wardlow filed by the Tuesday deadline to run for attorney general, despite losing the party’s endorsement on May 13 to political newcomer Jim Schultz. Both are running in an Aug. 9 primary for the chance to take on DFL incumbent Attorney General Keith Ellison in the fall.
Three Republican candidates filed to run in Minnesota’s First District primary race in August, after the February death of U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn set in motion a scramble to replace him in Congress.
Former state Rep. Brad Finstad won out among Republicans in a special primary race on May 24 to serve out the remainder of Hagedorn’s term this year, but he’ll face two of his GOP opponents in the regular primary election to represent the newly drawn district starting in January.
State Rep. Jeremy Munson and Albert Lea attorney Matt Benda filed to run in the August primary on Tuesday, despite conceding the special election to Finstad. Neither candidate responded to requests for comment.
“We are strongly disappointed to see Matt Benda and Jeremy Munson file a primary campaign in the First Congressional District,” Republican Party Chair David Hann said in a statement, noting that Finstad was also recently endorsed by local activists. “Benda and Munson should have more respect for the Republican Party’s endorsement.”
Finstad will face those primary challengers on the same day he competes in a separate special election against DFLer and former Hormel Foods CEO Jeff Ettinger to fill out the remainder of Hagedorn’s term.
Republican-endorsed governor candidate Scott Jensen will face only token opposition in the primary, after former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek decided not to challenge him for the nomination. Stanek, who did not compete for the party’s endorsement, had been weighing a possible primary run up until the filing deadline.
Democratic congressional incumbent U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar and Betty McCollum are facing challengers within their own party in August. Omar and four other candidates filed to run as Democrats in the Fifth District, including former Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels.
Two other Democrats filed to run against McCollum, including community organizer and Democratic operative Amane Badhasso. Both McCollum and Omar were endorsed by local Democrats.
In northeastern Minnesota’s Eighth District, DFL state Rep. Jen Schultz will likely face incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber after getting the local party’s endorsement. John Munter also filed to run for the seat as a Democrat.
Minnesota’s Democratic statewide officeholders did not attract any high-profile challengers within their own party before the filing deadline came to a close.
But a handful of third-party candidates filed before the Tuesday deadline in some of Minnesota’s top races this fall. Candidates in one of Minnesota’s two major pro-marijuana legalization parties filed to run in the First and Second districts in Congress, considered by political operatives to be the most competitive in the state. Pro-legalization candidates also filed to run for every statewide office except attorney general.
Democrats accused Republicans of recruiting pro-legalization candidates in multiple swing districts two years ago to siphon votes away from DFL candidates.
Former WCCO host Cory Hepola announced in March his candidacy for Minnesota governor under the newly formed Forward Party, but he failed to file for office by the deadline. Candidates from non-major parties must collect 2,000 signatures to get on the ballot.
The winners in the primary head to the general election on Nov. 8.
Staff writer Hunter Woodall contributed to this report.