By Kevin Sweeney, The Journal - NEW ULM — Jim Hagedorn came close to pulling off an upset in the 2016 District 1 congressional election. He lost to DFL incumbent Tim Walz by the narrowest of margins — .76 percent.
This year, with Walz seeking the nomination for governor, District 1 is considered by Republicans one of the best chances to pick up a seat in the House. Hagedorn wants to be the candidate who wins it.
Hagedorn brought his campaign to the New Ulm Rotary Club meeting on Tuesday.
Hagedorn said his concerns, as he seeks office, are to protect the country from radical Muslim terrorists, secure the borders, and “keep America safe.” But he also spoke about the challenges being faced by agriculture and rural communities.
“Living in rural Minnesota is tough,” said Hagedorn, who grew up in Truman and now lives in Blue Earth. “More people are moving away from the farms, and leaving to live in the cities.”
He said the challenges have many causes. Farm prices putting pressure on farmers is part of the cycle of the business, he said, but there are things that could be done, like repealing the Obamacare provisions that are placing extra burdens on farmers.
Hagedorn said he agrees with much of what President Donald Trump is doing, but took exception to the $1.3 trillion spending bill that Trump signed. “It didn’t have any reforms of government. It didn’t have any limits on government. It didn’t even send things back to the states or change hardly one federal program. I was a little excited to see more money for defense spending, but of all the agencies of government, the Pentagon needs the most reform,” Hagedorn said.
Hagedorn said the national debt keeps growing at an unsustainable pace, and he said his party is as much to blame as the Democrats.
“Ten years ago, when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, we doubled the national debt,” Hagedorn said.
He is concerned, too, about the tariffs that Trump is levying on foreign trade partners. “I understand where Trump is coming from, trying to protect American jobs and products, but here in rural Minnesota we depend on exports,” Hagedorn said. A trade war with China, which imports a lot of Minnesota pork and soybeans, would be harmful to the ag economy.
Hagedorn said there is more to be done to strengthen the country, including more tax reforms, winnowing away more regulations and compliance issues that hamstring business. He said he favors changes throughout the government programs, like requiring work for welfare benefits. He also favors providing affordable, abundant energy from U.S. sources.
Asked about gun control, Hagedorn said he believes in the 2nd Amendment and said there are plenty of laws already on the books concerning guns that need to be enforced. Law enforcement needs to do its job, said Hagedorn, citing the failure of local and federal law enforcement to follow up on reports on the Parkland, Florida, shooter before he shot up the high school. The government needs to be able to get the information it needs about people seeking gun permits to keep guns away from those who shouldn’t have them. But he doesn’t favor banning AR-15s or assault-style weapons. Most shootings and gun violence in the US involve hand guns, he said.
On immigration, Hagedorn said he supports building a wall along the Mexican border, but pointed out that many illegal immigrants came here on legal visas but didn’t leave after they expired. He believes in a merit-based immigration system, one that allows in people who will contribute to the country, and will assimilate. On the subject of DACA and the “dreamers” — illegal immigrants who were brought here as children and grew up in America — Hagedorn said he doesn’t believe in amnesty for illegal immigrants.