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Carnahan, Hagedorn's wife, announces candidacy for Congress

Carnahan was rumored to be a candidate; today she made it official.

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Jennifer Carnahan, former chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, during a visit to Rochester in September 2020.
Post Bulletin file photo
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ROCHESTER — Jennifer Carnahan is running for the congressional seat once held by her husband, Jim Hagedorn, and vacated when he died last month.

Monday morning, the former chair of the state Republican Party announced her candidacy, saying she wants to carry on the legacy of her husband, who died at 59 after a two-year battle with kidney cancer.

“It’s official. I’m running to honor my husband’s wish that I run for, and win, his seat,” Carnahan said in a tweet this morning, a day before the deadline for filing for the race. “Jim fought so hard to put Minnesota first. I promise you I will continue his fight.”

Carnahan becomes the 16th to announce their candidacy for the special election, which will have a primary on May 24 and election on Aug. 9. The filing period for the special election closes Tuesday. At least eight other Republicans have entered the race in the closely contested district. The field also includes six Democrats and one Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate.

Carnahan wrote that she is "committed to continuing my husband’s legacy of fighting to secure the border, defending conservative values, safeguarding the integrity of our elections, and serving the people of Minnesota’s First Congressional District." In her statement, Carnahan aligns herself closely with former President Donald Trump, saying she’s “running to disrupt the status quo.”

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Carnahan’s news release Monday did not say whether she intends to run in the general election in November.

Carnahan was elected to a third two-year term as state GOP chair last spring — but then resigned the position in August, after federal prosecutors filed sex trafficking charges against Anton Lazzaro, a GOP donor who had been close to Carnahan.

There were also allegations, which Carnahan denied, that she had created a toxic environment at the party offices.

DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin referred to the manner of her resignation that called into question her fitness for public office.

"It was not long ago that Jennifer Carnahan had to resign in disgrace as Chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party after her complete and total mismanagement of the organization became public," Martin said.

"First, a political ally and close personal friend of Carnahan's was indicated for child sex trafficking. Then, four of Carnahan's former executive directors accused her of fostering a toxic work environment, other staffers accused Carnahan of turning a blind eye to sexual harassment, and yet another staffer said she was outed against her wishes by Carnahan and subsequently harassed," Martin said.

"Jennifer Carnahan's leadership ability has been entirely discredited by those who worked most closely with her."

Minnesota Public Radio contributed to this report.

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Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or mstolle@postbulletin.com.
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