ROCHESTER, Minn. — First-term Republican Jim Hagedorn beat DFL candidate Dan Feehan by a wafer-thin 1,300 votes out of more than 190,000 cast in the 2018 race for Minnesota's First Congressional District. And if recent polls are any sign, the rematch promises to be another nail biter that will be closely watched across the country.
Neither Hagedorn nor Feehan faced primary opponents on Tuesday, Aug. 11. Bill Rood, a third-party candidate for the Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Party, is also running for the seat. With the primary now in the rear-view mirror, the race begins in earnest.
The First Congressional District, a strip of southern Minnesota that includes Rochester and Mankato, leans Republican. DFL Gov. Tim Walz held the seat for a dozen years by stressing, among other issues, his support for Second Amendment rights. President Donald Trump won the district by a 15% margin.
Running in 2018, Hagedorn strapped himself to Trump's agenda and promised to support Trump if elected. Outside groups from both sides pitched in $14 million to affect the outcome.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted his support for Hagedorn and other Minnesota GOP candidates for the U.S. House and Senate, praising Hagedorn as someone who "has my Complete and Total Endorsement."
But whether Trump has the electoral sway he did in 2018 is an open question. Polls over the last several months have shown Trump trailing Biden by as little as 3 percentage points and as much as 13 points. It's difficult to imagine Trump's fortunes not having an effect on the 1st district race.
Feehan, an Iraq war veteran, earned a bronze star and was deputy assistant secretary of defense in the administration of President Barack Obama. Since his defeat two years ago, he's been a consultant to the Farmer's Union, a DFL-leaning agricultural group, helping develop programming for struggling farmers.