Appeals court keeps Minnesota 2nd congressional election on Nov. 3

Democratic Rep. Angie Craig is running Republican challenger Tyler Kristner in the Minnesota CD-2 race. (FOX 9)

Minnesota's second congressional district election will stay on Nov. 3 after the U.S. Eighth Circuit appeals court decided Friday not to immediately move it back to February.

The court said Republican challenger Tyler Kistner was unlikely to win his appeal and get the election moved back to February after the death of the Legal Marijuana Now party candidate in September threw the race into legal chaos. Kistner faces Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, who favors holding the election on Nov. 3.

The marijuana party candidate's death triggered a state law forcing a special election on Feb. 9.  Secretary of State Steve Simon announced on Sept. 24 that November's results would be voided.

But this month, U.S. District Court Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright ordered the election back to Nov. 3. Wright said Craig was likely to win her argument that federal law requiring congressional elections in November would preempt the Minnesota law.

Kistner quickly appealed Wright's ruling to the Eighth Circuit and asked the appeals panel to put a hold on Wright's decision. He pointed to voters who cast ballots without voting in the congressional race, and said he had briefly stopped campaign activities amid the uncertainty. 

Thursday, the appeals judges declined to immediately move the election back to Feb. 9.

"The potential that some voters nonetheless forwent a vote for Representative due to the Secretary’s interim announcement is not sufficient to justify cancelling the election if federal law otherwise would not permit that step. That a short period of uncertainty affected campaign fundraising and tactical decisions by the candidates also does not justify a stay of the injunction without a likelihood of success on the merits," the appeals court wrote

Craig said she was grateful for the court's decision.

“My opponent’s effort to delay the upcoming election would have left the hardworking families of Minnesota’s second congressional district without a voice in Washington at a time when critical legislation affecting our communities was being debated in Congress," Craig said in an emailed statement.

Kistner said he plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but acknowledged that the election will be Nov. 3.

"I urge all voters to participate in this election on November 3rd," Kistner said in an emailed statement in which he accused Craig of trying to "cause confusion" with her initial lawsuit to prevent the February special election.