Olmsted County prepares for special primary

(ABC 6 News) – After Jim Hagedorn’s passing in February, 20 candidates have come forward hoping to fill his seat in Congressional District One.

"We just love the elections process," said Katie Smith, the associate director of property records and licensing for Olmsted County, said.

Tuesday the county will take the first steps in filling the seat left open at the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Jim Hagedorn served Southern Minnesota from 2019 to February of 2022, when he died of stage 4 kidney cancer.

The only thing on the ballot this primary is his spot. Voters will pick between 10 Republicans, eight DFL’ers, and two cannabis candidates. People living in the First Congressional District can vote in-person, absentee or curbside at their designated polling place.

A special primary is just that. Special. Olmsted County Election officials say they have not held a special primary in at least a decade.

"I know there hasn’t been in the last 10. It brings us energy," Smith said.

But with rarity, comes the potential for lower voter turnout.

"We definitely have a smaller turnout for this election than we do for the statewide August primary," she said.

Some Rochester residents said they weren’t aware of the election, or of their representative’s passing. Others said while Tuesday’s special primary is only for one seat, it still has a large impact on Minnesota and U.S. policy.

"It’s a little bit of a shame that people just focus on the main elections. Elections like this — it determines so much of what turns out in the actual election," said Quinton Dols, who lives in Rochester.

"I think its part of your civic duty. It’s where you live, and these people are voting on policies that affect our every day life," said Rachel Oberanovich, who also plans on voting Tuesday.