A federal appeals court on Friday rejected a Minnesota Republican congressional candidate’s request to delay the election in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District following the death of a third-party candidate. A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, all of whom were appointed by Republican presidents, denied the request of Tyler Kistner, the GOP’s challenger to incumbent Rep. Angie Craig, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.
The panel reasoned that a state statute directing the election to take place in February was likely preempted by federal law. The decision left in place a lower court ruling that ordered the state to hold the election on Nov. 3 after officials initially moved it to February in the aftermath of the Sept. 21 death of Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate Adam Weeks.
The 11-page order, penned by Circuit Judge Steven Colloton, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote that Kitsner was not likely to succeed on the merits of his claim.
“In our judgment, assuming for analysis that 2 U.S.C. §§ 7 and 8(a) would allow a State to cancel an election in some scenarios, the State’s justification for deviating from the uniform election date based on the death of candidate Weeks is insufficient to show that Kistner has a substantial likelihood of success on appeal,” Colloton wrote. “Even if the death of a Republican or Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate could qualify as an exigent circumstance that would allow the State to cancel an election and trigger a vacancy in office, we think it unlikely that the rationale would extend to the death of a third-party candidate from a party with the modest electoral strength exhibited to date by the Legal Marijuana Now Party in Minnesota.”
Despite the fact that election is currently scheduled to take place in just 11 days, the judges ordered an expedited full hearing on the matter to be put on the court’s calendar.
In a statement, Kistner accused Craig of instilling confusion among voters by seeking to keep the election on Nov. 3. He promised to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“[Rep. 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. MN law is clear, the announcement was made, and the voters were already voting based on the SOS decision,” he tweeted following the decision. “As a Marine, I took an oath to protect and defend our rights, regardless of party affiliation. I will continue the fight to ensure every voter in [Minnesota’s Second District] has a chance to have their vote and voice heard. After all, MN has a history of electing 3rd Party candidates to office.”
As a Marine, I took an oath to protect and defend our rights, regardless of party affiliation. I will continue the fight to ensure every voter in #MN02 has a chance to have their vote and voice heard. After all, MN has a history of electing 3rd Party candidates to office. pic.twitter.com/ebcxzf7LnU
— Tyler Kistner for Congress (@KistnerCongress) October 23, 2020
According to the Star Tribune, a delayed election would benefit Kistner, as experts expect a high voter turnout would favor Craig’s re-election.
“I’m grateful for the court’s ruling this morning, which ensures that our election will proceed & folks in [Minnesota’s Second District] will have continuous representation in Congress next year,” Craig tweeted Friday afternoon. “The courts have spoken – now it’s time for the people of Minnesota’s Second Congressional District to decide.”
I'm grateful for the court’s ruling this morning, which ensures that our election will proceed & folks in #MN02 will have continuous representation in Congress next year. The courts have spoken – now it's time for the people of Minnesota’s Second Congressional District to decide. pic.twitter.com/oxCxrD2BeX
— Angie Craig (@AngieCraigMN) October 23, 2020
Read the full Eighth Circuit decision below:
[image via YouTube screengrab]
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