The new chair of Minnesota's First Congressional District GOP is a 19-year-old determined to maintain Republicans' control of the seat as a special election quickly approaches.
Party delegates in southern Minnesota decided last month to elect Aaron Farris as chair of the First Congressional District Republican Party, as the GOP faces a grueling campaign season following Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn's death.
"I bring a new set of ideas, definitely a more modernized approach to campaigning, utilizing social media, the internet, different types of campaigning that involve more technology," Farris said in an interview.
A crowded field of Republicans is angling to win the May 24 special primary for the seat. Hours after Farris was elected chair last month, the First District GOP failed to endorse in the regular midterm election race despite going through seven rounds of voting on the congressional candidates.
"My primary goal is obviously to keep this district in Republican hands regardless of who our Republican nominee ends up being," Farris said.
Democrats held the seat for over a decade before Hagedorn flipped it in the 2018 midterms, with the Republican facing close elections that year and in 2020.
"Typically a CD chair brings a little more experience," said Jim Hepworth, 74, who recently served as the DFL chair for the First District. Hepworth added that he was "surprised that that's who they chose."
Farris said he started getting involved in Republican politics when he was 14 and is currently taking online classes through Rasmussen University.
"I'm one of those people who instead of just sitting around complaining about problems and waiting for other people to solve them, I like to be someone that's part of the solution," Farris said.
He can also point to his experience in politics to date, which includes other First District GOP posts and campaigning for Hagedorn in the 2018 and 2020 cycles. He's also vice chairman of the Freeborn County Republicans and cited inflation and gas prices as among the major issues he's focused on.
On Friday, Farris could be seen working the room and talking to delegates at the state GOP convention as Republicans prepared to debate endorsements in statewide races.
Farris said he announced his run for chair back in January when Hagedorn was still alive. But Hagedorn's death in February at the age of 59 changed the political calculus for the seat, with a long list of Republicans and Democrats trying to win it.
"I thought if I won I'd be a CD chair for an incumbent congressman with a normal election cycle in a good Republican year," Farris said. "And obviously all that's kind of been turned upside down right now. So it's a lot busier than I was expecting. Totally fine with that. But it's just a lot busier."