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Finstad defeats Munson in CD1 GOP primary, will face Ettinger in November

Finstad takes early lead in special election against Ettinger to serve out Hagedorn's term.

brad finstad election
Brad Finstad appears with his family before giving a victory speech at an election party in Sleepy Eye, Minn., following multiple news sources calling the CD-1 primary for Finstad.
Matthew Stolle / Post Bulletin
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SLEEPY EYE, Minn. — Moderate Republican Brad Finstad has defeated Freedom Caucus-backed state Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal, to advance to the 1st Congressional District general election and will face ex-Hormel Foods CEO Jeff Ettinger, who easily won his primary battle, according to NBC News.

With 25% of the precincts tabulated, Finstad held an overwhelming advantage over Munson, 15,402 to 2,550.

In the special election, Finstad was defeating Ettinger 60% to 37% with 10% of precincts reporting.

The special election in the current 1st District was called after the death of Rep. Jim Hagedorn. Whoever wins the special election race will serve out the rest of his term.

The general election between Finstad and Ettinger will decide who represents the district for a two-year term starting in January.

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“Hopefully, it’s a sign of good things to come in the special election,” Finstad said in an interview at the Sleepy Eye Event Center after the general election primary was called. “This is a sign that we were able to connect with voters.”

Finstad served three terms as state representative, and Ettinger is a first-time political candidate.

The 1st District has consistently voted for Republicans and moderate Democrats for decades. And for months, the seat appeared to be a shoo-in for Republicans, given President Biden’s low popularity over four-decade-high inflation and the rising costs of fuel and food. Some analysts predicted a wave election for the GOP.

But within the past several months, national politics became more scrambled and the race has been viewed nationally as offering a possible glimpse of the political mood.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to an abortion, enraging and galvanizing many Democrats. Finstad is anti-abortion, and Ettinger supports the right to choose.

This week, the Democratic-led Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, giving the Democrats a win on the eve of the election. The legislation seeks to fight inflation, invest in green energy and reduce carbon emissions.

But on the night prior to the election, FBI agents raided former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound in Palm Beach, Florida, as part of an investigation into the handling of presidential documents. The move has whipped Trump’s base into a fury.

Whether this mishmash of factors played a role in the race that wasn't high on many voters' radars will be fought over by analysts.

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Finstad had squeaked out a win against the conservative firebrand Munson in the special election primary in May.

Following his special election primary victory, Finstad was then endorsed by Republicans in the new 1st District. But Munson chose not to abide by the process and opted to challenge Finstad in the general election primary.

Finstad also served as a U.S. Department of Agricultural official in the Trump administration.

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Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or mstolle@postbulletin.com.
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