Angie Craig will apparently have a clear path to the DFL endorsement for Minnesota’s only open congressional seat. Her well-funded opponent Mary Lawrence ended her campaign Tuesday and her only remaining opponent, Roger Kittelson, ended his on Wednesday.
Kittelson says DFL party officials contacted him shortly after Lawrence’s surprise announcement. DFL Congressional District 2 Chair Sue Moravec says they called Kittelson to discuss what would happen with the upcoming candidate forums now that Lawrence had ended her campaign. Moravec says during that conversation Kittelson said he had decided to end his campaign for congress. Moravec says the DFL then suggested that Kittelson should make that announcement “sooner rather than later.”
“I agree with Dr. Lawrence we need to focus our energy behind our candidate to win the Second Congressional Seat,” said Kittelson in a statement announcing his withdrawal from the race.
That leaves Craig as the only announced DFL candidate to replace retiring Rep. John Kline for Minnesota’s second congressional district. Minnesota holds its caucuses on March 1. Delegates selected at those caucuses will later determine who gets the party’s endorsement, which presumably would go to Craig unless another candidate quickly emerges.
If that happens and no other DFL candidate files to run in the August 9 primary, Craig would likely face one of five candidates vying for the GOP endorsement in November. Those candidates are former talk show host Jason Lewis, former state Senator John Howe, former state Representative Pam Myhra, David Gerson (who ran against Kline two years ago) and a newcomer to the race, David Benson-Staebler. Three of the candidates — Myhra, Howe and Lewis are scheduled to debate at the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute on January 21.
Despite having been in Republican hands since 2002, Minnesota’s second congressional district is rated a toss-up. While Kline has won victories by double digit margins in most elections, thanks to redistricting a majority of the district voted for President Obama in 2012. Also DFL candidates have won several of the suburban legislative districts that used be Republican.