Democratic incumbent Angie Craig defeated Republican challenger Tyler Kistner in an election Tuesday to represent a swing U.S. House district that stretches from the south Twin Cities suburbs through many communities to the southeast.
This has been a breaking news update. Please see previous story below.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig held a significant lead Wednesday over Republican challenger Tyler Kistner in a pivotal congressional swing district south of the Twin Cities.

While Craig declared victory, the Associated Press had not yet called the race's outcome as ballots continued to be counted Wednesday. However, Craig had netted around 9,360 more votes than Kistner in the Second Congressional District race that was clouded by a legal challenge following the death of a third-party candidate.

"I am so thrilled to announce that I will be back to represent the Second District," Craig said in a Facebook Live broadcast Wednesday morning. "We have to make sure every vote is counted in this election. But I am so, so pleased to see that that work is ongoing."

Kistner and Craig were neck and neck Tuesday night, but by Wednesday morning she had pulled ahead. Kistner had not conceded by Wednesday afternoon and said he was continuing to track the results.

"Because of the unknown number of how many ballots are still outstanding, we owe it to the voters who waited for hours to cast their ballots before making any final judgments on this race," Kistner said in a statement.

Partial voting results showed that Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate Adam Charles Weeks, who died unexpectedly in September, had a significant impact on the race. As of Wednesday afternoon, 24,606 had cast their ballots for Weeks.

Weeks told a friend before he died that he had been recruited by Republicans to draw votes from Craig in the district, which extends across the southern suburbs and southeast rural communities. In a voice mail shared with the Star Tribune, Weeks said, "They want me to run as a third-party, liberal candidate, which I'm down. I can play the liberal, you know that."

Some absentee ballots were still being processed Wednesday. Dakota County Elections Director Andy Lokken — whose county accounts for a large number of votes in the district — said Tuesday night they were still waiting for some absentee ballot totals from some cities.

Weeks' death also has raised legal questions about the race. Craig successfully challenged a state law that would have postponed the contest and resulted in a special election in February. But Kistner, seeking a delay, has appealed the case to a federal appeals court.

Craig flipped the seat in 2018, defeating then-Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, who lost a challenge to U.S. Sen. Tina Smith on Tuesday. Before Craig's win, the Second Congressional District had been held by Republicans since 2001.

Kistner, a Marine Corps veteran and first-time candidate, has been seeking to return it to GOP control. Craig, a former health care manufacturing company executive, campaigned as a centrist Democrat who can work with Republicans in Congress.

She said Wednesday morning that Congress should focus on suppressing the coronavirus, and she called for the next presidential administration to build a federal strategy to deal with the pandemic. Craig also said Congress needs to complete an infrastructure bill and pass voting rights legislation named for the late Georgia congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon.

Jessie Van Berkel • 651-925-5044