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Minnesota's 1st Congressional District will remain in Republican hands until November, after Brad Finstad won a special election to serve out the remainder of the late Jim Hagedorn's term.

Finstad, a farmer and former three-term state representative, saw off the challenge from Democrat Jeff Ettinger, the former CEO of Hormel Foods, by 51.1% to 46.9%, with Finstad getting 60,261 votes to Ettinger's 55,341.

On the same night, Finstad easily overcame a primary challenge from fellow Republican Jeremy Munson to stand in November's election for the same seat, compiling 76% of the votes to Munson's 24%.

Finstad and Ettinger will face off again in November after Ettinger won the DFL primary.

In a statement Tuesday, Finstad paid tribute to the late Hagedorn, though didn't mention Ettinger.

"I am humbled to receive the support of my fellow Southern Minnesotans to represent them in Congress," he said. "I entered this race in March because I believe it is so important to get engaged in the battle for the future of my family, your family, and our country. Our country faces extraordinary challenges, but I am confident that we can come together to overcome them and ensure that the 21st century is yet another great American century."

While the margin of Finstad's win was relatively comfortable, it is being considered an illuminating result by political analysts ahead of the November mid-terms – and potentially a positive sign for Democrats nationwide.

Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report notes that Ettinger significantly outperformed Joe Biden's vote in the 2020 election. 

In 2020, the 1st District went for Donald Trump over Biden by a margin of 54%-44%, with Ettinger's margin of defeat a much tighter 4.2%, and he outperformed Biden in numerous counties including Olmsted (Rochester), where he was +17% over Finstad compared to Biden's +11% in 2020, and Blue Earth (Mankato) where he was +12% compared to Biden's +4%.

That said, Finstad's margin of victory was larger than the 3.1% that Hagedorn won the district by in 2020 over Dan Feehan. It's also arguable that Finstad had less name recognition than Hagedorn, while Ettinger – as a prominent 1st District businessman – had more than Feehan did in 2020.

Finstad will remain the strong favorite heading into the November rematch, which will also be impacted by being the first election run under the new 1st District boundaries.

The new map loses Le Sueur County and adds Goodhue and Wabasha counties.

In his statement, Ettinger said: "The voters of Southern Minnesota have spoken. I want to congratulate Brad Finstad on winning the Special Election last night. Though I had hoped to celebrate different news with you all, there is plenty for which to be hopeful. We won big in our primary, we outperformed pundits and polls, and we have momentum in a new, advantageous district."

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