A Minnesota Democrat desperate to convince voters that she has cross-party appeal hopes enlisting a Republican who doesn’t live in her district and voted in the 2020 Democratic primary could help her case.
Rep. Angie Craig, who is facing a tough reelection race against Republican Tyler Kistner in Minnesota's Second Congressional District, released an ad featuring a man who calls himself a Minnesota native and "lifelong Republican." That man, David Vesledahl, bashes Kistner and praises Craig’s votes in Congress.
"When Dave called me to share his story, I promised him that I would continue to do everything in my power to lower prescription drug costs for Minnesotans," Craig said in a statement. "Everyone deserves access to high-quality, affordable health care—and I’ll be fighting back against the pharmaceutical companies every step of the way."
But Vesledahl no longer lives in Craig’s district since Minnesota redrew its congressional map this year. He lives in Nerstrand, Minn., which is located in the state’s First Congressional District. Vesledahl's claim that he’s a "lifelong Republican" is also contradicted by the fact that he voted in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, according to voter files obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Voter files are data tools used by political parties and campaigns that provide a description of an individual’s voting history, address, and probability of supporting a Republican or Democratic candidate.
Craig’s strategy is a familiar one to Democrats looking to ditch their party label amid President Joe Biden’s poor approval ratings and a shaky economy. In Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan (D.) courted the support of a former Republican staffer who worked in the Obama administration and voted for Biden.
The Craig campaign acknowledged that Vesdehal lives in the neighboring first district, and therefore can’t vote for Craig. The campaign defended its characterization of his political affiliation, saying it’s how he "describes himself."
"Dave describes himself as a lifelong Republican, and his voter file registers him as a ‘Lean Republican,’ Craig’s spokeswoman told the Free Beacon.
Although Craig's district voted for Biden by 7 points in 2020, Craig only received 48.2 percent of the vote. Kistner, who challenged her that cycle as well, lost by just 2 points.
Craig’s reelection race is considered a "toss-up" by the Cook Political Report. National Democratic groups, such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC, have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race.
Neither Craig’s campaign nor Vesledahl responded to a request for comment.
The Free Beacon in February reported on Craig’s ties to the far left. Her district director backed the "defund the police" movement in 2020 and defended rioters burning down a police station in Minneapolis.