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Jennifer Carnahan, the controversial former Minnesota GOP chairwoman and widow of late First District Congressman Jim Hagedorn, announced Monday she is running for Congress in the special election to fill her husband's now-vacant seat. 

"It’s official. I’m running to honor my husband’s wish that I run for, and win, his seat. Jim fought so hard to put Minnesota first. I promise you I will continue his fight," Carnahan tweeted Monday morning. Hagedorn died on Feb. 17 after representing Minnesota's 1st Congressional District from 2019-2022.

In a news release, Carnahan said she is committed to continuing Hagedorn's legacy of "fighting to secure the border, defending conservative values, safeguarding the integrity of our elections, and serving the people of Minnesota's First Congressional District."

Carnahan most recently served as the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Minnesota from 2017-2021. She was forced to resign in August after coming under fire for her ties with Anton Lazzaro, a Republican Party donor who has been charged with sex trafficking. She has denied knowing anything about Lazzaro's alleged crimes. 

But pressure grew as she was accused of ignoring harassment claims from former Republican activists and creating a toxic work environment within the Minnesota GOP. She also apologized to her husband after a recorded phone call was released in which she spoke of him in scornful tones, saying: "Jim's not gonna be alive in two years."

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In her announcement, Carnahan likens herself to former President Donald Trump, saying she is a "businesswoman and a fighter." She also says she "brought the Republican Party back to relevance." During her tenure, the Minnesota GOP did make pickups in the 1st and 8th congressional districts and managed to hold onto the Minnesota Senate in 2018 and 2020, but failed to win any statewide elections.

The two-week filing period began March 1. A special primary will be held on May 24, followed by a special election on Aug. 9. Whomever wins will have to run again to hold their seat in November.

Other candidates who have filed to run in the race include Democrat Jeff Ettinger, the former CEO of Hormel Foods; Republican Matt Benda, an agricultural law attorney from Albert Lea; Republican state Rep. Jeremy Munson; former state Rep. Brad Finstad, a Republican; Democrat Richard Painter, a law professor and former associate counsel to the president from 2005-2007; and Democrat Sarah Brakebill-Hacke, a political consultant.

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