By William Morris - Owatonna.com - OWATONNA — Southern Minnesota voters will see some familiar faces this year vying for the seat of Minnesota’s First Congressional District.
Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-Mankato, who was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 2006, will once again be running against his 2014 challenger, Jim Hagedorn of Blue Earth. Walz defeated Hagedorn 54 percent to 46 percent in their last election match-up
Hagedorn was endorsed as the Republican candidate for the seat Saturday at the party’s district convention in Mankato. He was unopposed for the endorsement.
“We’re happy to have the confidence of the Republican Party, and we’re excited and energized for our campaign to defeat Tim Walz,” Hagedorn said.
A press release issued by Hagedorn’s campaign touched on a number of attacks on Walz’s record, including voting for the Affordable Care Act and his failure to support both veterans’ health care and anti-abortion legislation that Hagedorn favors.
“The issues right now, even compared to a year and a half ago, are resonating more than they were back then,” Hagedorn said Monday. “Issues like Obamacare … People have unfortunately experienced that vote Walz cast for Obamacare, and they don’t like it.”
Hagedorn also is targeting Walz on the economy.
“I think the big-government policies of Obama, Walz, these [Environmental Protection Agency] regulations, Obamacare, anti-energy policy … it’s all having an effect of killing jobs and suffocating economic growth,” he said.
Hagedorn said if elected he will pursue conservative policies on immigration, regulation and national security.
“The first priority is to make sure the country is defended and people are protected,” he said. “That means securing the borders, that means taking a refugee program timeout until we can figure out what’s going on, with people coming from countries than hate us ...Second it means limited government. We need to take power from the people in Washington and send it back to the people in the states that need it.”
The DFL district convention is Saturday, and Walz currently is unopposed to be endorsed for another term. Campaign Manager Terry Morrow said the Walz campaign looks forward to the coming election.
“Congressman Walz has a very strong record, and he looks forward to continuing the hard work on behalf of southern Minnesotans,” he said. “The congressman for example is one of the highest rated members of Congress for working across the political aisle. His work for veterans, for farmers, for families, for students, is well known across the district.”
Morrow said he expected the race for president, in which controversial businessman Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, to weigh against Hagedorn with voters.
“Presidential politics is at the center of the nation’s attention in 2016, and I expect that the concerns regarding Donald Trump and his statements will negatively impact Republicans running alongside him,” Morrow said. “I think it’s going to be difficult for Republicans to say they’re happy to run with Donald Trump.”
Hagedorn, however, showed no misgivings about his party’s presumptive presidential nominee.
“I’ll support whoever Republicans choose in Cleveland,” he said, referring to the Republican National Convention in July. “At this point it seems to be Donald Trump, and if that’s the case, I’m happy to run with Donald Trump, and I think we’ll offer quite a contrast to the Democrats. … Hillary will be Obama’s third term. Meanwhile, we’ll be offering pretty bold reforms, securing the border, making sure we’re protected from the terrorism, and on it goes.”
But first, he’ll need to be elected, and to that end Hagedorn said he and his supporters will be out in force across southern Minnesota now that the party’s endorsement is secured.
“Were going to work twice as hard,” he said. “We work hard to begin with, but that’s because we have to. We’re going to be at all the events, we’ll be at all the fairs. … We have strong name ID, we work hard, and even though we got outspent pretty hard last time we kept it close, and now we’re back to finish the job.”