Minnesota’s Second Congressional District election south of the Twin Cities is postponed until February after the death of the Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate.
Adam Charles Weeks, 38, died earlier this week, said Kevin O’Connor, the party’s candidate for U.S. Senate. “It’s a sad and sudden thing. We are pretty much taken aback,” he said. The organic farmer from Red Wing was facing off with Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig and Republican candidate Tyler Kistner. A special election will be held to determine the winner, and the likely lower turnout in February could have implications for the outcome in what is expected to be one of the most competitive congressional races in the state.
“The law is clear on what happens next,” Secretary of State Steve Simon said in a statement Thursday. “If a major party nominee dies within 79 days of Election Day; a special election will be held for that office on the second Tuesday of February (February 9, 2021).”
The Minnesota Legislature changed the state election law to delay elections rather than repeat the rushed outcome that followed the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone in 2002. Republican Norm Coleman won that seat 11 days later, defeating former Vice President Walter Mondale, who had been recruited to compete in Wellstone’s place.
Simon urged voters in the Second District to proceed as normal with filling out their November ballots, although their selections for the House race will not count.
They will have to vote separately in the February special election.
That means that the election season will continue into the winter for the Second Congressional District, with early voting in the special election starting around Christmas. Gov. Tim Walz will determine the exact start date of early voting.
Once Craig’s term ends on Jan. 3, there will likely be a month and a half where the seat is vacant until after the winner of the special election is sworn in, Simon said.
He said the Legal Marijuana Now Party has until Nov. 10 to chose their replacement nominee. The February election will continue whether or not they put forward another candidate.
The party is one of four major political parties in Minnesota, along with the Republican, DFL and Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis parties.
Dennis Schuller, with the Legal Marijuana Now Party, said they have not made any plans for how to proceed. But he said the party will meet in the next couple weeks.
Weeks’ mother, Mary Weeks, said she does not yet know the cause of her son’s death.
Joey Hudson, who said he had been Weeks’ friend since fourth grade, also did not know his cause of death but said he had been worried about Weeks’ health.
He had a bad ski accident the year before and was recovering from addiction, Hudson said, adding that he should not have been out walking miles on the campaign trail.
Weeks had supported President Donald Trump in 2016 but was also concerned about the major parties, Hudson said. Hudson also said Weeks was wooed to run for office by “hard-core Republican, borderline QAnon-type guys” and the duplicitous nature of the campaign was also wearing on him.
Hudson described his friend as an affable person who also liked to argue about his beliefs, and enjoyed fantasy football and James Bond movies.
“He’s the kind of guy who can walk into a room where he didn’t know anybody and he’d be friends with everyone there in five or ten minutes,” Hudson said.
Weeks’ campaign website lists criminal justice reform, marijuana legalization and preventing corruption among his top priorities.
“I was deeply saddened to hear the tragic news of Adam Weeks’ passing earlier this week,” Craig said in a statement.
Kistner also said in a statement that he was saddened by the news, adding there will be a time to talk about the election, but not immediately. He called Weeks “a passionate advocate for the causes he believed in.”