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Who’s running for Congress in Minnesota in 2020

After the dust cleared on the 2018 election, Minnesota’s delegation to Congress looked very different: Minnesotans elected first-timers to four of the state’s eight House seats, and confirmed appointed Sen. Tina Smith to continue in the place of Sen. Al Franken. Two years later, all representatives — and Sen. Smith — must run again to hang on to those seats.

2020 promises to be a busy political year, from the top of the ticket down. To help add a little order to the chaos, MinnPost is keeping track of all the candidates who declare for federal offices in Minnesota. We'll keep track of who drops out, who gets the party endorsement, and who wins the primary. (We’re also keeping track of candidates for the Minnesota Legislature.)

If you know of a candidate who’s missing or see any other information that needs correcting, please contact us — gschneider@minnpost.com or tnehil@minnpost.com.

Senate

Fresh off of defeating Republican state Sen. Karin Housley by more than 10 points in 2018, Sen. Tina Smith must again run for her seat in 2020. Smith was appointed after the resignation of Sen. Al Franken, and won election in 2018 to fill out his term. Now she's running for a new, six-year term. Smith may face former Republican Rep. Jason Lewis, a convserative talk radio host who lost his seat in the Second District to Rep. Angie Craig in 2018.

DFL

  • Tina Smith Incumbent
  • Senator from Minnesota, Smith formerly served as the Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota (2015–2018) and Chief of Staff to Gov. Mark Dayton. Smith worked as Vice President of External Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. In office, Smith has focused on agriculture and trade policy and has walked a fine line on controversial mining projects in Minnesota.

    From: Minneapolis

    Campaign website: https://tinaforminnesota.com/

    Incumbent

    Close
  • Steve Carlson
  • Carlson is a DFL candidate running against Sen. Tina Smith, Carlson has run for several other offices in Minnesota over the years.

    Campaign website: https://stevecarlsonforussenate2018.com/

    Close
  • Paula Overby
  • Overby is a a DFL candidate running against Sen. Tina Smith. She previously ran for Congress in the Second District in 2014 and 2016, as a member of the Independence Party. In 2018, as a Senate candidate for the Green Party, she ran against Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

    From: Eagan

    Campaign website: https://www.paulaoverby.com/

    Close

Republican

  • Jason Lewis
  • The former representative from Minnesota's Second District, Lewis hosted a conservative talk radio show, the Jason Lewis Show, from 2009 to 2014. He worked as a radio host prior to that. Lewis has aligned himself with President Trump on issues like trade and immigration.

    From: Woodbury

    Campaign website: https://lewisformn.com/

    Close
  • Rob Barrett Jr
  • Barrett is an Assistant Professor at North Central University in Minneapolis. Barret advocates for policies like expanded use of Health Savings Accounts and reducing student debt.

    From: Eden Prarie

    Campaign website: https://www.robbarrettforsenate.com/

    Close
  • Theron Preston Washington
  • Republican candidate for Senate.

    Close

Unaffiliated

Congressional District 1

1,315. That's how many votes Rep. Jim Hagedorn won his seat by, narrowly defeating DFLer Dan Feehan. In his first term in office, Hagedorn has been a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, even as policies like the trade war have adversely affected farmers in his district. In 2020, Feehan’s running again and has the backing of national Democratic groups, which could make for a hard-fought rematch in this southern Minnesota district.

Republican

  • Jim Hagedorn Incumbent
  • Representative from the First District, Hagedorn was elected in 2018. The son of retired Rep. Tom Hagedorn, he graduated from George Mason University in 1993. He ran three times for the seat, winning on the third attempt, after Rep. Tim Walz retired from the seat to run for governor. Hagedorn defeated DFL-endorsed candidate Dan Feehan in 2018. In office, he has aligned himself with President Trump's agenda.

    From: Blue Earth/St. Louis Park

    Campaign website: http://www.jimhagedorn.org/

    Incumbent

    Close

DFL

  • Dan Feehan
  • A veteran, school teacher, and second-time candidate for the DFL-nomination in Minnesota's First District, Feehan is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School and Georgetown University. After narrowly losing the seat in 2018, Feehan joined The Center for a New American Security as a Senior Fellow. Feehan is running on issues like avdocating for affordable prescription drugs and ending bio-fuel exemptions for oil companies.

    From: North Mankato

    Campaign website: https://www.danfeehan.com/

    Close
  • Ralph Kaehler
  • Kaehler is a farmer and solar developer. Kaehler is running on "accessible and affordable health care," as well as "mitigation of climate change."

    From: St. Charles

    Campaign website: https://kaehlerforcongress.com/

    Close
  • Johnny Akzam
  • Akzam is a web developer and self-described progressive candidate. He also sought the DFL nomination in the First District in 2018.

    From: Kasson

    Close
  • Richard Wright
  • Wright is a progressive attorney. He spent 10 years in the U.S. Army Reserve as a Judge Advocate general. He currently provides free legal servioces in Rochester to families, farmers, and children. He is running on advocating for a single payer health care system and tuition-free college.

    From: Rochster

    Close
  • Mark Schroepfer
  • Schroepfer is a real estate agent seeking the DFL nomination in Minnesota's First District. A graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato, Schroepfer supports reducing trade barriers and equitable health care pricing.

    From: Minneapolis

    Close

Congressional District 2

DFL Rep. Angie Craig defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Jason Lewis to secure this seat in 2018. Prior to Lewis, the area had long been represented by GOP Rep. John Kline. That history makes the district an appealing target for Republicans — who have been running ads against Craig since last year — if they can find the right candidate. Meanwhile, Craig will be touting her bipartisan bonafides in her pitch to keep the district blue in 2020.

DFL

  • Angie Craig Incumbent
  • Representative from the Second District, Craig was elected after defeating incumbent Republican Rep. Jason Lewis in 2018. Before politics, Craig worked in human resources at St. Jude Medical from 2005 to 2017. She is running on issues like reducing the cost of prescription drugs, pushing back against President Trump's trade war with China, and expanding rural broadband.

    From: Burnsville

    Campaign website: https://www.angiecraig.com/

    Incumbent

    Close

Republican

Independence-Alliance

  • Brad Svenson
  • Svenson is running to represent the Second District under the Independence-Alliance party banner. Svenson also sought the seat in 2018 as an Independence Party candidate.

    From: Apple Valley

    Campaign website: https://www.bradsvenson.com/

    Close

Congressional District 3

Rep. Dean Phillips won his seat in 2018, defeating Rep. Erik Paulsen in this suburban, relatively affluent district amid a wave of wins for Democrats in similar areas. A big question for 2020: Was that suburban Democratic wave a fluke or a realignment? In office, Phillips has taken moderate positions — he is a prominent member (along with the Eighth District’s Rep. Pete Stauber) of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus — that may be a good match for the Third District.

DFL

  • Dean Phillips Incumbent
  • Represenative from the Third District, Phillips was elected after defeating Republican incumbent Erik Paulsen in 2018. A graduate of Brown University, Phillips worked in his family’s Phillips Distilling Company from 2000 to 2012 before managing Talenti Gelato and then founding Pennys Coffee, which now has three locations in the Twin Cities. Phillips is an advoate for campaign finance reform and improving on the Affordable Care Act.

    From: Deephaven

    Campaign website: https://www.phillipsforcongress.org/

    Incumbent

    Close

Republican

Unaffiliated

Congressional District 4

Rep. Betty McCollum has safely held her reliably blue seat, which comprises St. Paul and its northern and eastern suburbs, since 2001. McCollum is no stranger to controversy — she is one of Congress’ most vocal critics of American policy towards Israel and she’s worked on multiple approaches to permanently ending the possibility of mining near the Boundary Waters during her most recent term — but she has yet to draw a serious challenge from either within her own party of from the GOP in St. Paul.

DFL

  • Betty McCollum Incumbent
  • Representative from the Fourth District, McCollum was elected in 2000. McCollum graduated from College of St. Catherine in St. Paul Minnesota in 1976. In 1992 She was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives and served four terms before being elected to her congressional seat in 2000. McCollum is an advocate for restricting mining near the Boundary Waters.

    From: St. Paul

    Campaign website: https://www.mccollumforcongress.com/

    Incumbent

    Close
  • David Sandbeck
  • Sandbeck is challenging McCollum to push her to support Medicare for All and public financing of elections.

    Campaign website: https://sandbeckforcongress.com/

    Close

Republican

Congressional District 5

Rep. Ilhan Omar was selected by voters in Minnesota's Fifth District after she won a five-way primary to replace Rep. Keith Ellison, who went on become to Minnesota's Attorney General. Omar, along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, is one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress. Though the district reliably votes blue by the largest margins of any district in Minnesota, Omar has attracted a large number of primary challengers.

DFL

  • Ilhan Omar Incumbent
  • Representative from the Fifth District, Omar was first elected in 2018. Prior to being elected to Congress, Omar was a member of the DFL House of Representatives and was Assistant Minority Leader of the DFL caucus. In Congress, Omar has been a prominent member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, where she serves as whip, championing policies like the Green New Deal and seeking to reshape U.S. foreign policy from the left.

    From: Minneapolis

    Campaign website: https://www.ilhanomar.com/

    Incumbent

    Close
  • Antone Melton-Meaux
  • A DFL candidate running against Rep. Ilhan Omar, Melton-Meaux has an extensive background working in workplace mediation. From 2013 to 2016, he led the global employment law division at St. Jude Medical. Melton-Meaux is an advocate for a carbon tax and says that he will "always oppose" the boycott and divestment movement targeting Israel, in contrast to Rep. Ilhan Omar, a supporter of the movement.

    From: Minneapolis

    Campaign website: https://antoneforcongress.com/

    Close
  • John Mason
  • A DFL candidate running against Rep. Ilhan Omar, Mason graduated from Kentucky State University.

    From: Minneapolis

    Campaign website: https://johnmasonmn.com/

    Close
  • Leili Shukri
  • Shukri is the co-founder of a Minneapolis-based clinic for underinsured community members. She is running on issues like protecting tennants rights and expanding affordable housing

    From: Minneapolis

    Campaign website: https://leilaforcd5.com/

    Close
  • Haji Yussuf
  • A Somali immigrant from Kenya, Yussuf founded his own advertising agency before stepping back to raise his kids and drive for Uber. His campaign promises to focus on issues that matter to the Fifth District and to stay away from divisive, national topics.

    From: Minneapolis

    Campaign website: https://hajiforhouse.com/

    Close

Republican

  • Danielle Stella
  • A special education teacher, Danielle Stella is running to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar. Stella was banned from Twitter for suggesting her opponent should be hanged.

    Campaign website: https://www.stella2020.com/

    Close
  • Lacy Johnson
  • Johnson previously ran as a Republican in the heavily blue Minnesota legislative District 59B. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. He has worked as a technical writer at Hennepin County, as well as at several companies including: Control Data, General Electric, Bell Atlantic, and Northwest Airlines

    From: Minneapolis

    Campaign website: https://www.lacyjohnson.com/

    Close
  • Lucia Vogel
  • A candidate for the Republican nomination in the Fifth District, Vogel has worked as a licensed minister, as well as a restaraunt owner and an interpreter. She attended the University of Honduras San Pedro Sula.

    From: Minneapolis

    Campaign website: https://www.luciavogelforcongress.com/

    Close
  • Alley Waterbury
  • Republican Candidate for the Fifth Congressional District.

    Close
  • Brent Whaley
  • Republican Candidate for the Fifth Congressional District.

    From: Minneapolis

    Close
  • Dalia al-Aqidi
  • A career journalist and immigrant from Iraq, al-Aqidi is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Rep. Ilhan Omar in the Fifth District.

    From: Minneapolis

    Campaign website: https://daliaforcongress.com/

    Close

Independence-Alliance

  • Chris Kelley
  • A veteran of the U.S. Army, Kelley currently serves as a Minneapolis Police officer. He graduated from Concordia University in 2012 with a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice Leadership.

    From: Minneapolis

    Campaign website: https://chriskelley2020.com/

    Close

Green

Former candidates

Congressional District 6

Rep. Tom Emmer was first elected in this central Minnesota distict in 2014, succeeding retiring Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann. Emmer is chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, tasked with electing Republicans nationwide. As for his own election, central Minnesota’s Sixth District leans heavily Republican, making Emmer the heavy favorite to win re-election here.

Republican

  • Tom Emmer Incumbent
  • Representative from the Sixth District, first elected in 2014. Emmer currently serves in Republican leadership as the Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House campaign arm of the Republican Party. Emmer was a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011, and the Republican nominee for governor in 2010.

    From: St. Cloud

    Campaign website: https://emmerforcongress.com/

    Incumbent

    Close

DFL

Congressional District 7

Conventional political wisdom in Minnesota has said Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson can hold on to the otherwise deeply red Seventh District as long as he wants to. But over the course of the last few elections, Peterson’s victories have gotten narrower and narrower. The primary field of Republicans looking to challenge him is crowded, and features both David Hughes, who lost to Peterson in 2018 by less than five points and former Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, who was recruited by national Republicans to run for the seat.

DFL

  • Collin Peterson Incumbent
  • Representative from the Seventh District, Peterson, who’s served in Congress since 1991, is the last original Blue Dog Democrat, a coalition of conservative-leaning Democrats. Peterson chairs the House Aggriculture Committee and is noted as an ally of the sugarbeet industry.

    From: Detroit Lakes

    Campaign website: https://www.petersonforcongress.com/

    Incumbent

    Close
  • Stephen Emery
  • Emery is a legal analyst and conservative Democrat running for Minnesota's Seventh District.

    Campaign website: https://stephenaemery.org/

    Close
  • Thaddeus Laugisch
  • Laugisch is challenging incumbent Collin Peterson for the DFL nomination, claiming he would be a better representative for Minnesota’s workers. Laugisch works as a designer and safety director for an agricultural contractor.

    From: Moorhead

    Campaign website: https://tforc2020.com/

    Close

Republican

  • Dave Hughes
  • Hughes is the two-time Republican nominee in the Seventh District and aims to try to unseat Rep. Collin Peterson by making this his third. Hughes has aligned himself with President Trump and recieved his endorsement in 2018. A 21-year vetran of the Air Force, Hughes currently works for General Atomics as a drone instructor pilot.

    From: Karlstad

    Campaign website: https://www.hughesforcongress.us/

    Close
  • Michelle Fischbach
  • The 49th Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, Fischbach was recruited by Rep. Tom Emmer to run for the Republican nomination in the district. She represented the 13th District in the Minnesota Senate from 1996 to 2018, and was president of the Senate from 2011 to 2013 and 2017 to 2018. Fischbach has aligned herself with President Trump.

    From: Paynesville

    Campaign website: https://www.fischbachforcongress.com/

    Close
  • Noel Collis
  • Collis is is a practicing gastroenterologist who received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota, after attending St. Olaf College.

    From: Albany

    Close
  • Joel Novak
  • Novak is a veteran who served as an airborne soldier. He recieved a degree in political science, pre-law and military science from Drake University and a J.D. from Drake University Law School, and his masters degree in military law from The Judge Advocate General's School.

    From: Alexandria

    Close
  • Jayesun Sherman
  • Sherman attended North Central University in Minneapolis 1994. Sherman taught at private school in Saipan and served as a Youth Pastor in Wisconsin.

    From: Windom

    Campaign website: https://www.jayesun4uscongress.com/

    Close

Independent

Congressional District 8

Northern Minnesota was long seen as a DFL stronghold, but that idea was shattered when Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack defeated longtime incumbent DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar amid the Tea Party wave of 2010. Two years later, Rep. Rick Nolan (who had represented the area in the ’70s) took the seat back for Democrats. But after Nolan retired in 2018, former Duluth policeman Rep. Pete Stauber was able to win the seat back for Republicans. Can he keep the district red in 2020?

Republican

  • Pete Stauber Incumbent
  • Representative from the Eighth District, Stauber was first elected in 2018 after defeating DFLer Joe Radinovich in the wake of DFL Rep. Rick Nolan’s retirement. Though generally a reliable vote for Trump and congressional Republicans, Stauber’s press releases tout bipartisan legislation and bills that bring dollars back to the district.

    From: Duluth

    Campaign website: https://petestauberforcongress.com/

    Incumbent

    Close

DFL

  • Quinn Nystrom
  • Nystrom is an insulin affordability advocate running for the DFL-nomination in the Eighth District. Rick Nolan, the former DFL-congressman who represented the district, has endorsed Nystrom. Nystrom has made health care affordability the central tenet of her campaign.

    From: Brainerd

    Campaign website: https://quinnforcongress.com/

    Close
  • Gaylene Spolarich
  • Spolarich has worked for 25 years in local and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribal government. She's advocating for a bringing more economic opportunity to Northeastern Minnesota.

    Campaign website: https://www.spolarichforcongress.com/

    Close
  • Soren C Sorensen
  • Sorensen is a candidate for the DFL nomination in the Eighth District. His platform emphasizes human rights and workers rights. Sorensen also sought the nomination in 2018 but was defeated in the primary.

    From: Bemidji

    Campaign website: http://www.sorensenforcongress.com/

    Close

Former candidates

  • Marjorie Holmstrom-Sabo
  • Holmstrom-Sabo has worked in a variety of industries inlcluding web development and mortgage servicing. She announced a campaign for the DFL nomination in the Eighth District but dropped out of the race due to the time and resource demands of campaigning.

    Campaign website: https://marjeforcongress.com/

    Close

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Julie Stroeve on 02/20/2020 - 11:05 am.

    talk about jerrymandering in the 7th! look at that north to south craziness!

    • Submitted by Brian Scholin on 02/20/2020 - 11:51 am.

      How would you divide it otherwise? It looks to me like 1, 7, and 8 are fairly well defined by their particular regional or economic concerns. I don’t have a lot of insight on the rest, though they fit pretty well with my understanding as well. There are always things that could be done differently, but I believe MN has done a pretty good job of avoiding gerrymandering. Certainly better than many states. Geographic size and shape doesn’t tell the whole story.

      • Submitted by Carl Brookins on 02/21/2020 - 12:48 pm.

        I agree with Brian. I remember the difficulties when the parties tried to gerrymander our districts and ultimately others had to decide. If we don’t lose a house seat (participate in the census!) small adjustments will be all that’s needed, so long as everybody stays neutral and avoids scurrilous effort to overbalance the results in favor of the other side.

  2. Submitted by Kevin Schumacher on 02/20/2020 - 03:28 pm.

    I’m in the 7th and have issues with Mr. Peterson, but after reading Mr. Emery’s web page, I wonder if there actually are any Democrats here.

  3. Submitted by Roy Everson on 02/21/2020 - 01:08 am.

    This is a well-appreciated service from Minnpost and merits thanks. And a little editing here and there, such as the 4th district Republicans. “Term limits for government employees”? “A lawyer that focuses on mediation”? And 5th, “Omar was selected by voters”?

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