Southern Minnesota voters to decide who will fill vacancy after Rep. Jim Hagedorn's death

Minnesota Rep. Jim Hagedorn died after a years-long battle with kidney cancer, his wife and campaign announced Friday.

MN GOP Precinct Caucuses
Jim Hagedorn, then a candidate in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District, speaks during the Minnesota GOP Precinct Caucuses Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, at Mayo High School in Rochester.
Forum News Service file photo
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ST. PAUL — Voters in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District will decide who should replace the late U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn in an August special election coinciding with the state's primary contests.

Minnesota law spells out the conditions for filling legislative vacancies. And it says that the governor within three days of the death of a sitting lawmaker will provide notice of the special election and potential primary contest.

Hagedorn's wife Jennifer Carnahan on Friday, Feb. 18, announced that the congressman died after a years-long battle with kidney cancer.

Gov. Tim Walz, a former 1st Congressional District representative who was challenged by Hagedorn in 2016, was expected to announce details for the special election within the three-day window.

But even without an announcement, state law lays out the timeline for an election. Here's what voters can expect based on that framework:


  • Candidates interested in the position will have until March 15 to file, Secretary of State Steve Simon said on Friday, but a date had not yet been set for when filing could begin.
  • On May 24, voters in the 1st Congressional District will be able to cast their ballots in partisan primaries to decide who moves on to a special election. The Secretary of State's Office said early voting in the contest is set to start on April 8.
  • Then on Aug. 9, voters in the current 1st Congressional District will elect a representative to serve out the remainder of the term that runs through January. Early voting in that election is set to start on June 24.
  • Also on Aug. 9, voters around the state will participate in partisan primary elections for the 2022 general election.

Voters in the 1st District could opt to send a representative to Congress for a few months and then choose someone else to serve out the following two-year term that starts in 2023. Or, depending on which candidates throw their hats into the ring, voters might be able to choose the same person to serve out both terms.
Meanwhile, a third group of voters could vote in the special election: Those who were in the 1st District before new voting maps based on U.S. Census data were issued this week.

A panel of Minnesota judges on Tuesday, Feb. 15, issued new voting maps that reshaped the state's eight congressional districts. The new boundaries move some current voters out of the district and add new ones to CD1 that had previously resided in neighboring districts.

Those who were in the 1st District before the new lines were drawn could vote in the special election to fill the vacancy — as well as participate in the primary in their new district.

While there were rumblings Friday about which prospective candidates would run to fill the vacancy, none had formally announced their intentions as of Friday afternoon.

The region has a mixed political history, but more recently has supported Republicans.

Hagedorn, a Republican, in 2018 and 2020 bested Democrat Dan Feehan to win in the district that spans the southern edge of the state. Walz, a Democrat, represented the district from 2007 until 2019.

Several incumbent state legislators, particularly in the Senate, edged out competitors with more extreme views on COVID-19, election security and more.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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