Election 2016 preview: Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District

By DeeDee Stiepan, KIMT - ROCHESTER, Minn. – If you live in southern Minnesota, you’ll be seeing the race for the state’s 1st Congressional District on your ballots next week. The district extends across southern Minnesota from the South Dakota border to the Wisconsin border and is made up of 21 counties including Freeborn, Mower and Olmsted.

For the past nine years, Democrat Tim Walz has served as the U.S. Representative for that area and he’s coping to be elected again. For the second time, he’s being challenged by Republican Jim Hagedorn of Blue Earth, MN.

Both candidates have been making their way around the district hoping to earn votes. Over the weekend Hagedorn and his campaign spent time door knocking in Rochester neighborhoods. On Monday, Congressman Walz made some phone calls to voters from the Rochester DFL headquarters. We spoke to both candidates while they were in the Med City.

Walz has served in the U.S. House since 2007 and believes he’s been effective in furthering things like farm policy, and veterans issues. And for Walz, how he’s done it has been the most important.

“It feels to me like this idea of working together and bipartisanship is kind of a lost art form and there are about 50 or 60 of us in the House still that make a real effort at that and I think southern Minnesota values is what I’m reflecting,” Walz explains.

If reelected, he says it will be important to continue focusing on the economy, on a clean energy future that creates jobs and to go along with that; workforce training.

“These are bipartisan issues, they don’t draw a lot of negatives from either side, and I just think having a little experience and getting things done, that’s where we want to go.”

His challenger, Jim Hagedorn believes a lot has changed in the two years since he first ran agains Walz, saying the issues have caught up to his campaign.

“I’ve been running on replacing Obamacare and Walz’s failed vote there, I’ve been running on securing our borders and protecting our country from Islamic supremacists, I’ve been running about weeding out excessive government and having things like regulatory reform at the federal level, so all those issues those big national issues are now front and center in this campaign,” Hagedorn explains.

His campaign offers what he calls “bold solutions” to problems Hagedorn claims aren’t getting solved.

“I just think that what is going on in Washington isn’t working, there’s a lot of corruption in Washington and I would be someone that would fight that,” he continues. I think that’s what people are looking for; efficiency in government, people that will go out there an not become part of that establishment like I think the Congressman has the last ten years but fight that establishment and try to do better for the people.”

In the 2014 general election, Walz received 54.2% of the votes and Hagedorn 45.7%.