Ettinger wins DFL primary in CD1 special election; GOP race too close to call
Democrat and former Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger will qualify for the Aug. 9 special election for Minnesota’s 1st congressional district after voting in the crowded Republican and Democratic primaries on Tuesday.
This we know.
What we don’t yet know is which Republican will face Ettinger to complete the term of U.S. Representative Jim Hagedorn, who died in February after a long battle with kidney cancer.
Trump’s former USDA official Brad Finstad had a narrow 368-vote lead over State Rep. Jeremy Munson of Lake Crystal on Tuesday night, with a few Fillmore County constituencies to report. Whether that will be enough to secure a narrow victory in a race that has pitted a Republican establishment-backed candidate against a potential House Freedom Caucus member is unclear. Any margin of 0.25% triggers a state-funded recount.
Ettinger wins easily
Ettinger, of Austin, is a first-time job candidate who served as Hormel’s top job from 2005 to 2016. He has a history of supporting Republicans and Democrats but, spurred on by a dislike of Trump and Trump-style politics, he has recently backed Democrats and made large donations to some. He currently heads the Hormel Foundation and serves on the board of The Toro Company and Ecolab.
By early Wednesday, Ettinger had garnered over 64 percent of the vote in the DFL primary. During a call from a rally at Steve’s Pizza in downtown Austin on Tuesday night, Ettinger said he introduced himself “as a long-term community and business leader who can bring an approach to common-sense non-politicians in Washington”.
He said he would try to bring down the temperature in Washington, DC, and hopes to “eliminate some of the polarization.”
Ettinger told MinnPost that his top priorities “at the local level” are helping people gain skills for good jobs and providing more opportunities for local youth, as well as helping small farms. families and to serve on the House agriculture committee.
Nationally, Ettinger said he would want to codify the right to abortion if Roe v. Wade was struck down by the Supreme Court for ‘protecting women from becoming criminals’, called on Congress to ‘act on climate change’ and said he would support two bills that Democrats say would protect women. voting rights – the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Free Suffrage Act.
“This country has a long history of getting to where we are today,” Ettinger said. “We are past the stage of the 1800s when only white landowners had the right to vote and we must not go back in that regard.”
Ettinger high far more money than any Democrat or Republican, thanks in part to a $200,000 donation from himself to the campaign. Several GOP candidates, including Munson, lent large sums of money as well.
Preston’s Sarah Brakebill-Hacke came second in the DFL primary. She was homeless and in foster care as a child, but eventually attended Yale and Cambridge. Brakebill-Hacke had an extensive anti-poverty agenda that included a single-payer health care system.
Ettinger was criticized during the primary campaign for his more centrist agenda and for being a wealthy former CEO of a major food company. Hormel grew under his tenure, creating thousands of jobs, but also had certain labor, environmental and animal welfare violations. Rena Wong, organizing director of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663, which represents workers at Hormel, called Ettinger a “decent guy” who was sensitive to workers and the union.
Republican primary too close to call
Republicans are favored by many to win the special election in August, although the district was held by DFLer Tim Walz as recently as 2019. Trump won the district in 2020 with 55% of the vote and 2022 is expected to be a more favorable policy. climate for the GOP.
Finstad served three terms in the Minnesota House from 2003 to 2008. He later led the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and the nonprofit Center for Rural Policy and Development before being appointed by Donald Trump in 2017 to lead the work of rural development in Minnesota for the USDA.
During the election campaign, Finstad portrayed himself as a successful problem-solver and lawmaker who helped pass bills with some bipartisan support to expand gun rights and fund pregnancy centers that dissuade women from having an abortion.
He told MinnPost on the most important issue of the election is “restoring American energy independence” and lowering gas prices through increased domestic drilling.
Behind Finstad was Munson, who previously served as the 1st District GOP chairman and even led delegate voting at a 1st District convention, though no one was ultimately endorsed.
Munson, however, drew little support from fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill in Minnesota. Many consider him a ineffective and uncooperative voice too rigid to oppose public spending. Munson split from the House Republican Caucus to form a separate four-person bloc on Capitol Hill and is also known for criticizing GOP leadership that he says is not conservative enough.
Munson was supported by the senses. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, as well as Freedom Caucus representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Finstad had the endorsement of many southern Minnesota state legislators and U.S. Representatives Michelle Fischbach and Pete Stauber of Minnesota.
Finstad and Munson parted ways on many key issues. Munson has pledged never to vote to raise the debt ceiling, which Finstad said he generally opposes but did not rule out. Munson said he wanted to jail Dr. Anthony Fauci; Finstad said Congress should focus on other things. Finstad says MPR News he would not have opposed the results of the 2020 congressional elections. Munson said he would have voted not to certify Jan. 6, as Hagedorn did.
Munson was strongly opposed to government funding of broadband internet infrastructure, while Finstad said investments in rural broadband should focus on building reliable fiber networks and ensuring coverage mapping is accurate. so that new networks do not duplicate work.
Munson argued on the campaign trail that the district was Republican enough for voters to choose a right-wing fighter over a more moderate candidate. Finstad responded by saying the district was not deep red and GOP candidates failed to clear 50% in recent elections.
The primary race for the regular 1st District election will take place Aug. 9, the same day as the special election featuring Ettinger and whoever wins the GOP primary. But the special election will be held under the current 1st District boundaries, while the fall race will be held under redrawn lines after the 2020 census. The future 1st District includes new neighborhoods, like Red Wing, and no does not include parts of the current neighborhood such as Le Center.