U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., died of cancer in February, leaving his seat vacant. Hagedorn represented a rural district with Republican leanings and a rating of R+8 from the Cook Partisan Voting Index.
Still, the district has seen closer elections recently, with a one-point margin of victory in the House elections for both 2016 and 2018. The seat could have flipped toward the Democrats during Tuesday’s special election… but the seat went to a Republican: former state Rep. Brad Finstad.
Finstad was sworn in Friday as the newest member of the U.S. House, giving the GOP one more seat, which means Democrats can’t afford to lose more than four votes on close issues like their flagship climate change and health care bill.
The House Democrats last saw their majority shrink in June. At the time, Texas Republican Mayra Flores won a special election to fill a seat most recently held by a Democrat.
Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a ceremonial photo op afterward with a smiling Finstad, who was surrounded by members of his large family, including his wife, Jackie, and their seven children.
“It’s a special day for us to welcome a new member of Congress, Mr. Finstad, and his beautiful family,” Pelosi said. “As I said to the children, what we do is all about them, all about the future.”
Representatives of both parties congratulated Finstad on his new job.
Take a look —
Welcome to the House, Congressman Brad Finstad of Minnesota! pic.twitter.com/ABEpym6rBR
— House Admin. Committee GOP (@HouseAdmnGOP) August 12, 2022
Join me in welcoming the newest Republican to Congress (along with his wife and 7 kids)—Brad Finstad from Minnesota! pic.twitter.com/A1JqKDSKLP
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) August 12, 2022
Minnesota's Finstad sworn in as newest member of Congress https://t.co/PfO1pJ765N
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 12, 2022
Finstad served as state director for USDA Rural Development during the Trump administration.
“People in my district sent a farmer to Congress,” Finstad said in a statement. “As a farmer, we wake up in the morning and don’t wonder if something will be broken during the day; we know something will be, so instead, we wonder how we will fix it. I will come to work every day in Congress with the intention to do everything I can to fix things.”
Finstad was elected only to complete the remainder of Hagedorn’s term. The newly inaugurated congressman will face a rematch in November for a full term against his Democratic opponent, former Hormel Foods CEO Jeff Ettinger, who came within 4 percentage points of winning Tuesday.
Finstad is expected to benefit from a red wave in November’s election.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.