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D.C. Memo: Every election is special

This week from Washington, what’s going on in the Second District, the changing Eighth, and McCollum on Trump’s State Department.

Rep. Angie Craig
The election in Minnesota’s Second District appears to be set to go forward. What's unclear is whether there will also be a special election in February due to the death of Legal Marijuana Now candidate Adam Weeks.
Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week from Washington, what’s going on in the Second District, the changing Eighth, and McCollum on Trump’s State Department. Let’s get on with this.

Meanwhile, in the Second District

Three different courts have now rejected Republican candidate Tyler Kistner’s challenge to change the date of the election in the Second District Congressional race.

The race was thrown into a confusing legal battle when Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate Adam Weeks died in October, triggering a Minnesota state law that requires a special election following the death of a major party candidate. Without legal challenge, Craig would have had to vacate her seat for a few weeks for a special election. But Craig offered up a successful legal challenge to the state law in Federal court, ensuring that the election will continue as scheduled in November.

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Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who handles emergency requests for the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals (which contains Minnesota), denied Kistner’s application to send the case to the full court for consideration. You can read Kistner’s application in full here.

Now, the election will proceed as planned in November, with one significant caveat: Judges so far have denied that the November election should be cancelled, but that does not mean that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals will not rule in favor of holding yet another election in February.

In related news, in a voicemail left to a friend before he died, Weeks said he was recruited to run by the GOP to pull votes from Craig. Brianna Bierschbach has the story at the Star Tribune. 

Stauber MN-8

In the Eighth District, Rep. Pete Stauber has become more comfortable with right wing talking points. He also won’t say what he thinks should be done if the Affordable Care Act is struck down by the Supreme Court. Read more at MinnPost. 

Stauber said it was “presumptuous” to ask what he would do if the Affordable Care Act was  struck down, despite a 6-3 conservative majority on the court and President Trump actively pushing for its downfall.

He said he doesn’t know “whether it’s going to be struck down or not,” he said. “Cause, you know, we don’t know.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Briana Bierschbach and Brooks Johnson at the Star Tribune have their own profile of the race here: Northern Minnesota congressional race reflects shifting political allegiances.

McCollum responds to State Department report

The Trump administration is considering releasing a report condemning major human rights organizations as antisemitic, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam. The report would ostensibly condemn the organizations for their criticism of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

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Rep. Betty McCollum has long been a critic of Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which she has called “apartheid.” She has also released bills targeting Israel for well documented human rights abuses against Palestinian children. 

She often cites independent organizations like Human Rights Watch and Oxfam in the construction of her bills on Israel. And Amnesty International USA has endorsed her bill, H.R. 2407, Promoting Human Rights For Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.

I asked McCollum for her thoughts on the report: “Anti-Semitism is a persistent threat to Jewish communities in the U.S. and around the world. It must be resisted, condemned, and eliminated. But reports that the Trump administration plans to label credible, established human rights organizations as ‘anti-Semitic’ only benefit the forces that abuse human rights, quash democratic dissent, and promote religious and ethnic violence,” McCollum said in a statement.

“There are no justifiable excuses for violating human rights, and every government in the world needs to be held accountable for actions that dehumanize or violate the human rights of individuals and vulnerable groups. I continue to support and stand with the many organizations working to end human rights abuses here in the U.S. and around the world.”

What’s up at the NRCC

In September, I reported that the National Republication Congressional Committee, under Rep. Tom Emmer, had embraced candidates who affiliated with QAnon. Here’s a quick recap if you’re not familiar with the conspiracy theory:

The baseline theory is that President Donald Trump is engaged in a secretive fight against a group of Democratic satanic cannibal-pedophiles who run the world (many of these tropes echo age-old antisemitic conspiracy theories). At the center of it all is “Q,” an anonymous online figure who QAnon believers think may be in the Trump administration (this is not substantiated).

Now, an update from Sam Stein at the Daily Beast: The NRCC has formalized its relationship with QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene, providing her campaign a check for $5,000.

Emmer has yet to offer any concrete explanation for why the party is not only not condemning, but supporting candidates that have endorsed the conspiracy theory.

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By the numbers

  • 5: Five days until the election is over… kind of. There is currently a dispute about whether or not Minnesota’s consent decree, which allows ballots to be received by mail up to a week after election day, will stand.
  • 47% to 42%: A SurveyUSA poll of 649 likely voters in Minnesota, conducted 10/23-10/27 puts Joe Biden five percentage points ahead of President Trump (with a +/- 4.6 point margin of error)
  • 2,700: There are about 2,700 gray wolves in Minnesota. The Trump administration today  announced their delisting from the Endangered Species Act at the Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Swinging through

Both President Trump and Joe Biden will be swinging through the state on Friday. Biden will be in St. Paul. Trump will be in Rochester.

The Trump campaign initially planned to hold their rally at the airport in Rochester, but is moving to a larger location, says MPR’s Catharine Richert. The Mayo Clinic and local officials asked the campaign to limit attendance to 250, but it appears that guidance will be ignored.

In other news

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Quote of the week

“If things do not change, if they continue on the course we’re on, there’s going to be a whole lot of pain in this country with regard to additional cases and hospitalizations and deaths. We are on a very difficult trajectory. We are going in the wrong direction,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week.

What I’m reading

Rachel M. Cohen for The Prospect: Why Reopening Schools Has Become the Most Fraught Debate of the Pandemic

A long read on a very politicized question: Can we safely reopen schools?

Assistance for City Pages staff, organized by Matthew DeLong

City Pages, as you may know, is being shut down. Matt DeLong at the Star Tribune is organizing a fundraiser for the staff who have been laid off to do with whatever they see fit. If you want to contribute, check out the link above.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: gschneider@minnpost.com. Follow at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.