North Branch Mayor Kirsten Kennedy enters MN-8 race

North Branch Mayor Kirsten Kennedy and her children. Kennedy is a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District. (Kennedy for Congress)

Today, North Branch Mayor Kirsten Hagen Kennedy announced she will seek the DFL nomination for Congress in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District.

Kennedy made news most recently as the guest of Congressman Rick Nolan at President Trump’s State of the Union Address. At that time, Nolan was a candidate for re-election. Since then, he announced he’s retiring from Congress, a surprise to many.

Kennedy was the first of many candidates to float the possibility of running. She becomes the first after Leah Phifer, who was already running against Nolan, to officially announce.

I am Kirsten Kennedy, and I am running for Congress. As a Norwegian-Born American, I never imagined working in our United States Capitol. I realized if I wanted to instill change, I needed to do it. So I ran for Mayor of North Branch. In my tenure as Mayor I have made a point to work for all communities, be accountable for my city, and bring businesses, jobs and vibrancy to my community. Now I’m looking to take my voice to Washington as a strong and unwavering voice for the 8th district. Following in the footsteps of my friend Congressman Rick Nolan will not be easy, But I will follow his lead in common sense and effective governance. I am Kirsten Kennedy, and I am running for U.S. Representative in the 8th Congressional District of Minnesota.

North Branch is located in Chisago County. This is one of the exurban areas in the southern part of this mostly northern district. This area grew enormously over the past 30 years, pulling the locus of MN-8 political power south from the Mesabi Iron Range.

Kennedy’s campaign means that Phifer, who lives in Isanti County, won’t have exclusive claim to support from the southern part of the district. However, Kennedy has a lot of campaigning to do in catching up to Phifer’s work so far. In addition, Kennedy isn’t well known yet in the Iron Range or the DFL vote trove of Duluth.

It’s been a long time since Minnesota had a Norwegian-born Congressperson. One-hundred years ago, however, that was standard.

Who’s running and who’s not? What makes the Eighth District unique? Check out my new MN-8 2018 page. I’ll be covering this race start to finish.


  1. One interesting question concerning the various candidates is how Minnesota’s loss of a congressional seat will affect them. By 2022 there likely will be no CD8. Although having a relatively young incumbent representative of either party would encourage that party to try to defend a redistricting plan that preserves the viability of that congressperson for re-election, candidates who live on the margins of the district are more likely to be vulnerable to being redistricted out of whatever new district contains the Range and Duluth. Kennedy, Daubt, and to a lesser extent Mills, Phifer, and Radinovich are all potential victims of that, whereas Metsa, Anderson, Simonson, and probably Lourey live in places likely to be included in any revised district that contains the current CD8 heartland.

    This is probably more important for DFL candidates than GOP, since a GOP candidate would probably be stronger for being in a district that did not contain Duluth and the Range. In the 2012 redistricting, the GOP legislature tried to create a district south of Duluth that would have been easier for Cravaack to defend, while putting Duluth and the Range in a district that contained the home of Colin Peterson. That plan was blocked by Dayton and rejected by the courts.

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