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Pro-Trump former Minnesota GOP chair Jennifer Carnahan running for late husband's House seat

Widow of late congressman to run for his seat
Pro-Trump former Minnesota GOP chair running for late husband's House seat 00:42

Jennifer Carnahan, the wife of the late Minnesota Congressman Jim Hagedorn and the former chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, announced Monday that she is running for Congress to fill the seat vacated when he died last month.

"Though my heart is still heavy after Jim's passing, the encouragement I have received from throughout southern Minnesota has inspired me to carry on his legacy by running to complete the remainder of his term," Carnahan said in a statement. "In the final weeks before his passing, Jim told me to keep forging ahead, to keep reaching my dreams, and to win this seat."

"I am 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," she added. 

Hagedorn died on  February 17. He announced that he had kidney cancer in July 2021 and checked into the Mayo Clinic in January after testing positive for COVID-19.

Donald Trump Campaigns In Northern Minnesota
Minnesota Republican Party chair Jennifer Carnahan looks on during the national anthem during a rally for President Donald Trump at the Bemidji Regional Airport on September 18, 2020 in Bemidji, Minnesota.  Stephen Maturen / Getty Images

Governor Tim Walz scheduled a primary for the special election on May 24 and the special election will take place on August 9 to fill out the remainder of Hagedorn's term. Voters will select a candidate to represent the district for a full term during the November general election. 

Jennifer Carnahan became Minnesota Republican Party chair in 2017 and resigned in August after her close associate and GOP donor Anton Lazzaro was arrested on federal sex trafficking charges. According to CBS Minnesota, there were also accusations of a toxic work environment at the party and allegations that Carnahan ignored claims of sexual harassement by her staff. Carnahan has denied the allegations and said she wasn't aware of Lazzaro's alleged criminal behavior. 

There are at least eight other GOP candidates and six Democrats running in the race to replace Hagedorn. The district stretches across a large portion of southern Minnesota, bordering Iowa. Hagedorn was elected in 2018, flipping the district from Democratic to Republican. Before Hagedorn's election, the district was represented by Walz, who is currently Minnesota's Democratic governor. 

"Like President Trump, I am a businesswoman and fighter," Carnahan said in a statement. "Here in Minnesota, I disrupted the status quo and brought the Republican Party back to relevance. Now, I ask for the support of southern Minnesota to do the same in Washington."

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