MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The countdown to Election Day ticks on and two opponents vying for Minnesota’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives are ramping up campaign efforts in southern Minnesota.
Congressman Jim Hagedorn (MN-01) is once again facing off with DFL-endorsed candidate Dan Feehan.
In 2018, the two candidates came within 1,315 votes of each other, one of the tightest congressional races in the country. On Sunday, the two will meet at the KEYC News Now Congressional Debate.
DF: I was a four-year-old kid, living in Red Wing, I had a father running for state senate at the time. And I was the kid who didn’t want to be in a parade on the back of a convertible, but I was. It was hot and it was miserable and I started crying. My little sister’s there, my mom’s there and I started screaming – and my mother, very nicely, quieted me. She gave me context as to why we were there. She said, “We’re doing this for your dad. Your dad’s doing this for other people.” And something about that just clicked. So the idea of serving others is just something I wanted to do.
So when the Pentagon got hit on 9/11, watching it burn, I decided to join the military, which led to two combat tours in Iraq, which then led to serving in a different way as a middle school teacher – which I would argue is a lot harder than serving soldiers in some ways – to serving in the Pentagon, it’s the idea of public service. The idea of political office beyond that is [that] I’ve learned a lot of things along the way. I’ve learned how policy action or inaction is life and death consequences. In war, in education, in so many other ways. And I think the experiences that I’ve had are what’s missing out of Washington right now.
DF: I think what you see out of CD-01, what you see out of southern Minnesotans, they respect and appreciate independence. They respect independent voices because they themselves are independents. This is a district that has voted for Democrats, who has voted for Republicans, and it has an appreciation for the person who’s running. And I think that’s what makes me the best representative for this district. I’ve been an independent voice my whole life, as an Army Officer, as a teacher, serving in the Pentagon, because, at the end of the day, if you’re not advocating for other people, who are you advocating for?
DF: Your priority doesn’t change. You have to reach people. People need to know that what they are going through, their lived experience, is being acknowledged and being heard and somebody is actually going to do something about it. The priority of people has never changed. This is a people-first campaign. We did town halls to make sure people had the best information possible about this pandemic. We’re putting out good information for workers and people who have been most recently unemployed as well. We’re trying to lead right now because people are actively looking around. I talk to hundreds of people a week and they are exhausted because they don’t see any leadership right now coming out of Washington. And that’s so frustrating, given what they’re going through.
DF: Any undecided voter going through the middle of a pandemic right now, I view this as a bigger and larger issue. Prescription drugs are less affordable than they were six months ago, health care is less affordable. The expenses of your life are harder and [it is] harder to pay for every single month that’s happening, and there’s a reason for that. Corporate special interests control politicians in Washington, Republicans and Democrats and including my opponent right now. So the status quo is clearly not working for you. How do we change that? It’s through the mentality and idea that people have to come first, not corporate special interests that aren’t anywhere near southern Minnesota. And that’s what I’m trying to do – fight for you with that in mind.
JH: I was a kindergartner in Truman, at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Truman, and I carried in a bunch of Nixon-Agnew buttons and spread them out to all the kids at the schoolhouse right on the front step. And the principal came out and told me that I couldn’t do that again. I could do it one time but that’s it. That’s when I was five years old.
I think when my father was in Congress was when I was introduced more to how it all works and what it all means. And to meet some of the people in person like President Reagan who was really my political hero. And then I worked for a congressman, Mr. Stangeland, of Minnesota. I did that in my 20s. And I thought, you know, if you really want to be someone who can make a difference, as far as the outcome and future of our country, that’s one way to do it.
JH: Good people, hard working folks. We have incredible agriculture, land to produce on, a lot of hard working farmers, agribusinesses. Companies like Hormel and others that they’ve heard about. And then I tell them that we’re home to the Mayo Clinic, the preeminent institution of medicine in all the world. I’m not just their representative in Congress, I happen to also be a patient. They’ve done great things. I’ve said ‘The healing hands of God and the Mayo Clinic have helped me overcome and keep moving through past this kidney cancer.’
JH: Well, no. Forty-five days into the job, so this would have been February 2019, I was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer. Found it by accident, had no symptoms, and was very lucky. The immunotherapy treatments, from the beginning, really helped, my body’s responded so well to them. The cancer’s either gone away or going away. And like I said, I haven’t missed a beat.
JH: So in 2014, I took on Tim Walz. In 2016, we were just four-tenths of a point from beating him. So a tight race there. In 2018, also a tight race. We beat Feehan with 1,300 votes. But what I tell people they should look at is that was a very big Democrat wave election. I was one of only two Republicans in the whole country to take back a Democratic seat. We way over-performed. Republicans lost 41 seats in the House, we gained two, and I happened to be one of them. We had really good people up around us who worked hard. And, frankly, I gave the folks a choice. I said I’m a conservative, who wants to go to Washington, go to Congress to partner with President Donald Trump to keep moving the country in the right direction with our conservative positions.
JH: No, it kind of worked out in a sense that, my priorities from the beginning were looking out for the district, making sure agriculture is sustained, we can help our farmers when we needed to, make sure that our small businesses were as thriving as possible, and then protect especially our rural hospitals.
Mayo Clinic’s been very successful, we want to help them, but the rural hospitals are always teetering, unfortunately, on bankruptcy, and we don’t want to see that happen. So when the coronavirus hit, it kind of all played into that. How do we double down and make sure we can get our farmers from one side of the pandemic to the other. How do we make sure our small businesses can try to stay functioning, and retain their employees and pay their employees. And finally, what do we have to do to make sure our rural hospitals, who had to shut down and stop elective surgeries, have the money to be sustained.
JH: I think their interests are looking out for the future of the country. What’s our America? What’s our foundation? What’s our future going to look like? And I think we have radically different alternatives.
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