We probably ran the best Republican congressional “challenger” campaign of this election cycle. We spent $2 per vote and came within 2,547 votes (0.76% of the 335,603 total votes cast) of defeating incumbent Democrat Tim Walz. I congratulate Congressman Walz on his victory.
We ran an old-fashioned retail and issue-based campaign. We worked tirelessly across southern Minnesota and effectively contrasted Walz’s failed 10-year record in Congress with my bold solutions to defend America, reform government to expand our economy, replace Obamacare, empower Veterans and defend our God-given rights.
The national pundits labeled this seat “safe Democrat.” We proved them dead wrong.
|The unofficial vote total:||Tim Walz||
|Jim Hagedorn||166,528 (49.58%)|
To place our result in perspective, only one incumbent U.S. House Democrat was defeated in this election, that being freshman Rep. Brad Ashford of Nebraska, who ran for reelection in a strong GOP district.
Had only 2 voters per precinct changed their ballot from Walz to Hagedorn, we would have pulled off the greatest upset victory of 2016. All we needed was a little more help at the end.
The outcome reflects the electorate’s increasing awareness and acceptance of our campaign and my ideas, as well as a growing disaffection with Tim Walz.
I carried 13 of 21 counties and received 60% or more of the vote in six. That’s remarkable for a challenger. Walz failed to top 60% in any county.
Once again, it was Washington money and Washington special interest groups, not voter affection, that dragged Walz over the “finish line.” Walz’s liberal voting record on the key national issues does not mesh with the beliefs and values of southern Minnesotans.
The most frustrating aspect of this razor thin setback is being denied the chance to write the bills and cast the critical votes to enact President-elect Donald Trump’s legislative program to Make America Great Again. Many of Mr. Trump’s core conservative policies are ideas I have championed for years.
But I am excited for our country, as the Republican Party is positioned to move our nation in a new direction and we have the opportunity to shape the Supreme Court for a generation or longer. Additionally, I am thrilled for the State of Minnesota, as the GOP now holds the majority in both houses of the legislature.
After several years of nonstop campaigning, here’s what I learned: The most effective and rewarding way to run for Congress (and be a good congressman) is to personally engage the people of Minnesota’s First District. Meeting you on Main Streets, parades, county fairs and residences made me a better person and a more informed candidate.
Thank you for your votes and support and thanks to the Hagedorn staff, Republican Party officials, financial donors and volunteers who gave us a shot to win and exceed every last expectation.
While we fell just short of victory, it was a privilege to carry the mantel for Minnesota’s First District Republican Party in this election, and I am honored to have represented our shared conservative values.