Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn clung to a narrow lead early Wednesday in Minnesota’s First District against DFL candidate Dan Feehan.
Hagedorn, a former congressional staffer, is betting on his first-term record in Congress and his staunch support for President Donald Trump, who won the district four years ago by 15 percentage points over Hillary Clinton. But Democrats are bullish about their chances to flip the seat this cycle, dogging Hagedorn for controversies around spending on constituent mail through his congressional office.
Feehan, a former teacher and Iraq war veteran who came within 1,300 votes of winning the race two years ago, was trailing close behind Hagedorn with 84% of precincts reporting. The race was too close to call by the time this edition went to press.
Stretching along 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, home to the Mayo Clinic.
After three campaigns in the district, Hagedorn was elected two years ago and is now running on a record he says brought Paycheck Protection Program loans to small businesses during the pandemic and prioritized CARES Act funding to preserve rural hospitals.
Feehan argues that the Trump administration has been absent in its COVID-19 response and that people are struggling to connect with resources to help them weather the pandemic. At a time when people need health care more than ever, he cites Hagedorn’s support for a Trump-backed lawsuit to invalidate the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.
Trump visited Rochester for a rally on Friday, and surrogates for Democratic nominee Joe Biden also campaigned in the district.