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Special election to serve out Hagedorn's term has its first candidate

DeVoe, a Red Wing bookseller, will run in Democratic primary.

Richard DeVoe
Richard DeVoe.
Contributed / Richard DeVoe
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RED WING — A special election to select a representative to serve the remainder of the term of the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn has its first declared candidate: Richard DeVoe, a Red Wing bookseller who said he will run in the Democratic primary.

His announcement comes on the same day that Gov. Tim Walz issued a writ of special election for the 1st Congressional District following Hagedorn’s death last Thursday after a two-year battle with kidney cancer.

Hagedorn’s passing set in motion an election process in which parts of the special election and general election will fall on the same day.

On Aug. 9, voters in the current 1st District will elect a representative to serve out the remainder of Hagedorn’s term. Also on that date, voters in the new 1st District will nominate candidates from the major parties to run in the general election.

The implication of the overlapping contests is that voters could elect a representative to serve out the last few months of the term, then choose someone else to serve a full two-year term that starts in 2023. Or they could choose the same person.

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The party nominees for the special election will be selected in a partisan primary to be held on May 24.

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DeVoe, who owns Fair Trade Books in Red Wing, said that by running in the special election, his hope is to illustrate what it means to be a “Better Democrat.” He said he will be calling on all Democrats to step up and help change the party for the better.

“I think we need better leadership,” DeVoe said. “Democracy is imperiled, and we need to get back to our roots as the Democratic Party.”

DeVoe doesn’t currently live in the 1st District, but state law doesn’t require a congressional representative to live in the district they represent.

DeVoe will be a resident of the new district that the mapmakers created after shifting Goodhue and Wabasha counties from the 2nd to the 1st Congressional District as part of redistricting.

Before Hagedorn’s death, no one from the DFL Party had stepped forward to challenge the two-term Republican in the red-leaning district. DeVoe said he was disappointed that no one was willing to take on the challenge.

DeVoe said he is not a political novice. He unsuccessfully ran for a congressional seat in 2004, fueled by his opposition to the war in Iraq, when he lived in Colorado. He described himself as an environmental and social justice activist with experience in running political campaigns.

Speculation has turned to a handful of Republicans who might run, including Hagedorn’s widow, Jennifer Carnahan, a former state GOP chair; Sen. Julie Rosen of Fairmont; Rep. Jeremy Munson of Crystal Lake; Rep. Nels Pierson of Rochester; and former Rep. Brad Finstad of New Ulm.

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On Monday, state Sen. Carla Nelson, who was also on a short list of possible GOP candidates, said she would not run for the open seat. Instead, she will run for the new Minnesota Senate 24 seat.

The current district has a Republican lean. The new one became even redder after the inclusion of counties that are represented by GOP state legislators.

DeVoe said he will formally declare his candidacy at 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, in front of the Red Wing post office.

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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