House Republicans added one new member to their number Thursday as former Agriculture Department official Brad Finstad won a special election to serve out the term of the late GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died of cancer this past February.
Finstad, who emerged from a primary field of eight for the special election, told Minnesota Public Radio that he will concentrate on issues close to regular Americans whom he says have been ignored by the Biden administration.
“Everywhere I go in southern Minnesota, I’m hearing the exact same thing,” said Finstad, who spent six years in the Minnesota legislature before working in the Trump USDA.
“It’s family pocketbook issues. It’s gas prices. It’s food prices. It’s grocery store shelves being half full. It’s disruption in supply chain things like baby formula and other necessities that we’re just not normal to have shortages with. And people are just frustrated with it,” he said to MPR.
Jeff Ettinger, the former CEO of Hormel Foods and a first-time candidate, defended the Biden White House as it struggles with high prices caused by the global supply chain backlog, and wondered why Finstad is focusing on the national political environment instead of him.
“I feel like he’s apparently running against Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, and not me,” Ettinger told MPR.
He said voters he talked with are worried about the logjam in Congress.
“I’m receiving great feedback from Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans who are sick of the gridlock and hostility in Washington and recognize that I have a long track record of getting things done,” Ettinger said. “And that’s what they’re looking for.”
Finstad leads Ettinger 46% to 38% in the latest ABC 6 poll, but 8% of those surveyed said they were still undecided.
The two were the only candidates on the ballot in the special election — but in a curious twist, voters were asked to nominate candidates for the regularly scheduled November election for the newly redrawn 1st District.
In the Republican primary, Finstad defeated/lost to state Rep. Jeremy Munson, while Ettinger beat/was beaten by financial CEO George Kalberer and/or attorney James Rainwater.