Incumbent Republican Jim Hagedorn turned back a second challenge from Democrat Dan Feehan in a sometimes bitter U.S. House campaign for the right to represent the full width of southern Minnesota.
The tight race was called Thursday, two days after Election Day, and the margin was more than 11,000 votes.
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Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn narrowly led DFL challenger Dan Feehan in a high-stakes rematch in southern Minnesota’s First Congressional District.
Hagedorn was up by 3% of the vote with 100% of precincts reporting in the district Wednesday evening. While the race had not yet been called by the Associated Press, Hagedorn declared victory. “I’m honored by the opportunity to serve Minnesota for another two years in the U.S. House of Representatives, and I look forward to continuing to fight on behalf of our southern Minnesota values and rural way of life,” Hagedorn said in a statement.
Feehan campaign spokesman Ben Reimler said they would wait “until every ballot has been counted” before commenting further on the race. “We knew this race would be highly competitive,” he said. “We are humbled by the support we received.”
Stretching across Minnesota’s border with Iowa from South Dakota to Wisconsin, the district is largely rural. But it’s also home to fast-growing and diversifying regional centers like Mankato and Rochester, hsome to the Mayo Clinic. A former congressional staffer, Hagedorn ran three times before winning the district two years ago, beating Feehan by a 1,300-vote margin out of nearly 300,000 cast.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quickly put Hagedorn on its list of targets this fall, citing his vote against a bill to lower prescription drug prices and his support of a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. National groups spent millions backing Feehan, a former teacher and Iraq war veteran.
In television ads, they dogged Hagedorn for controversies involving spending on constituent mail through his congressional office. Between January and the end of March, Hagedorn spent $570,176 of his annual $1.43 million congressional office budget, nearly 40% of his allowed expenses for the year and more than any other member of Congress. Much of that spending was on printing and mail expenses to constituents with two firms that had ties to staffers in his office. Hagedorn conducted an internal review of the spending and said he’s taken steps to prevent such spending in the future.
The First Congressional District has swung between the two parties over the years, supporting both Barack Obama and President Donald Trump, who beat Hillary Clinton in the district four years ago by 15 percentage points. Before Hagedorn, Tim Walz, a Democrat who is now governor, represented the district in Congress for 12 years.
But Hagedorn ran as a “conservative reinforcement” for Trump, who was leading Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the district by 10 percentage points on Wednesday. He campaigned on a first-term record he says brought Paycheck Protection Program loans to small businesses during the pandemic and prioritized CARES Act funding to preserve rural hospitals. Trump visited the district twice during the campaign, including a Friday rally at the Rochester airport.
Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Party candidate Bill Rood had won more than 21,000 votes in the district by Wednesday evening, or nearly 6% of the total vote.