Republican Tad Jude will face off against DFLer Kelly Morrison for the Third Congressional District in November.

DFL congressional candidate Kelly Morrison announced Thursday evening that she’ll resign from her state Senate seat — which has more than two years left on its term — as she homes in on her campaign to represent the west metro in Washington, D.C. It also triggers a one-seat race between Democrats and Republicans for political control of the Minnesota Senate this fall.

“Today I am stepping down from my seat in the (Minnesota) Senate to focus full-time on my campaign for Congress,” Morrison, of Deephaven, wrote in a social media post. “This will save taxpayers the cost of a special election and allow voters to more easily participate in choosing a new senator. It has been an honor to serve the people of SD45.”

Morrison’s announcement comes just days before a state elections statute would have required a special election to be held on a separate date following the Nov. 5 general election. On Friday, Gov. Tim Walz said he will officially issue a writ of special election that will allow a two-day window for candidates to file to run for the Senate District 45 seat — June 10 and June 11.

The timing of Morrison’s resignation from the legislature was not lost on her Republican opponent, former Minnesota district Judge Tad Jude.

“Kelly Morrison is one of the most extreme progressives in the Democrat Party, and the timing of her decision to resign was calculated to serve the Democrat Party interests first, not the interests of MN3 taxpayers,” Jude told Alpha News on Friday. “I’ve been all in on this race from day one; I’ll be all in until the day I’m elected. And I’ll be all in when I serve as the next congressman from MN3. I will always put the people’s interests over politics.”

Morrison, a longtime friend of retiring CD3 Congressman Dean Phillips, announced in November she’d be seeking to replace the three-term Democrat, not long after Phillips officially declared he was mounting a longshot primary campaign against President Joe Biden. In December, Phillips said he wouldn’t seek a fourth term and pledged his support to Morrison.

Morrison’s legislative record at a glance

A medical doctor by trade, Morrison is one of the most progressive DFLers — based on votes she’s taken and bills she’s sponsored — in the state legislature.

She served one term in the state House, but jumped to run for state Senate in 2022. Since then, Morrison has authored a number of politically controversial bills in her short time at the Capitol, including a physician-assisted suicide proposal that she unsuccessfully pushed to pass this session. She helped the DFL’s one-seat Senate majority pass a 38-percent increase to the state budget in 2023.

Tad Jude participates in a debate during his 2022 campaign for the Republican nomination for Minnesota attorney general. (Alpha News)

The obstetrician, who has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood, is a sponsor of a handful of far-reaching legislative proposals to expand abortion access in Minnesota, including signing on as a lead author of the Protect Reproductive Options Act last session, which many consider to be one of the most extreme abortion laws in the country.

Morrison has campaigned tirelessly to pass a bill she sponsored that would implement ranked-choice voting statewide. She also joined with other metro area legislators to sponsor legislation that would expand a mining ban by 1.9 million acres in northern Minnesota and carried a bill that would mandate recyclable packaging, a measure opposed by numerous industry associations across Minnesota and the nation, including the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

Senate District 45 comes into focus in battle for legislative control

While 134 seats in the Minnesota House are up for grabs on the Nov. 5 ballot, Republicans would need to retain the 64 seats they control and flip four seats currently held by Democrats to take control of the House for the first time since 2018. A number of House district races that helped the DFL retain its majority were decided by just a few percentage points in 2022.

The timing of Morrison’s resignation adds a wrinkle to the DFL “trifecta” dynamic at Capitol. While Morrison won her 2022 race with 56 percent of the vote in 2022, a strong candidate in a now open seat could present an opportunity for the GOP to wrest away control from the DFL in the Senate.

There’s also the eventual fate of the east metro Senate district currently occupied by Sen. Nicole Mitchell, DFL-Woodbury. Mitchell, who was charged in April with felony burglary related to an alleged break-in of her stepmother’s Detroit Lakes home, has repeatedly said she does not intend to resign her seat, even as the number of her DFL colleagues who have called for her resignation grows. Mitchell has a court date for the felony burglary charge in Becker County next month. If she were to resign following adjudication of that criminal trial, a separate special election would be held after Nov. 5.

Ann Johnson Stewart, Kathleen Fowke to enter SD45 race

Less than 24 hours following Morrison’s announced resignation, DFLer Ann Johnson Stewart and Republican Kathleen Fowke both announced they will file to run for the District 45 seat.

“Minnesotans are looking for balance amidst political disarray in Washington and Saint Paul. After the last two years of single-party control, our local school budgets are suffering under costly state mandates,” said Fowke, who came up short in a run against Morrison for the seat in 2022. “Our young adults are still desperately searching for support as mental health needs increase, and families are struggling to close the financial gaps.”

DFLer Ann Johnson Stewart, right, and Republican Kathleen Fowke both announced they will file to run for the District 45 seat.

Johnson Stewart, who served two years in the state Senate from 2021 to 2023, has been a vocal supporter of Morrison’s congressional campaign and in April took to Facebook to explain that she had lined up a run for the District 45 seat, “however there isn’t really a seat open yet.”

“Senator Kelly Morrison, who’s my senator, is running for Congress is running for that seat in November. Her (re-election) as our senator doesn’t happen for two and a half years … We fully expect there is going to be a huge, fierce competition to replace her. I hope to be the person to replace her,” Johnson Stewart said.

Johnson Stewart renewed her Senate campaign committee last October, weeks before Morrison entered the CD3 race. She had raised more than $23,000 by Dec. 31, according to campaign finance records. Donations from prominent Democrats include current senators Scott Dibble and Jim Carlson.


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.

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