Republican Brad Finstad was sworn in Friday morning as Minnesota's newest Congress member, telling his House colleagues the state's southern First District "sent a farmer to Congress."
"On the farm, when we wake up in the morning we know something will be broke. And so we wake up trying to figure out, 'How am I going to fix things?'" Finstad said in a short speech on the House floor. "And so, really, to me, serving in Congress is all about that. Rolling up my sleeves, taking that farmer mentality, figuring out what's broke and how we're going to fix it and move on."
Finstad, of New Ulm, defeated Democrat Jeff Ettinger in Tuesday's special election to fill the open First District seat following the death of U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died in February after battling kidney cancer.
"He was a true fighter for southern Minnesota and he was a great example of hard work and what we strive to be in Minnesota," Finstad said of Hagedorn at the onset of his speech.
Finstad's truncated House term ends in January. He and Ettinger, a former CEO of Hormel Foods, will rematch in November for a full two-year term.
Finstad's seven children sat in the front rows on the House floor on Friday, looking on as their dad took the oath of office surrounded by other members of Minnesota's congressional delegation.
Both Republican Rep. Tom Emmer and Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat, offered words of welcome after he took the oath.
"The residents of Minnesota's First Congressional District elected Brad Finstad to carry out Congressman Hagedorn's legacy of relentless representation in the House of Representatives. They could not have made a better choice," Emmer said. "As a fourth-generation Minnesotan, Brad truly represents the values of our state — honesty, integrity and the willingness to answer the call to serve."
Along with running a family farm, Finstad, 46, has held a number of agriculture-related leadership positions. He was the U.S. Department of Agriculture's rural development director in Minnesota under the Trump administration, has been executive director of the Center for Rural Policy and Development and was a leader of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. He also spent three terms in the state House.