By John Gizzi, Newsmax - As Democrats were making their biggest gain of House seats (40) since the so-called “Watergate Year” of 1974 (49 seats), Jim Hagedorn was giving his fellow conservative Republicans in and outside Minnesota’s 1st District something to cheer about.
In an upset that could only be dubbed stunning, Hagedorn — 56, former congressional staffer and U.S. Treasury Department official — became one of two Republicans in the nation to win a House seat held by Democrats (the other is also a Minnesotan, former professional hockey player Pete Stauber, who captured the 8th District).
Rolling up 50.2 percent of the vote, Hagedorn eked out a win over Democrat Daniel Feehan—making it to Congress on his fourth try.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax during the orientation for freshman lawmakers, the son of former Rep. Tom Hagedorn, R.-Minn, made no bones about being a conservative swashbuckler.
But, the congressman-elect also noted, “I appreciate President Trump and what he is doing for the country. And I’m here to help him keep moving in the right direction.”
“And,” he quickly added, “[conservative pundit] Pat Buchanan is a great American.”
Like Trump and Buchanan, the Minnesotan wants to secure the border and end chain migration, birthright citizenship, and sanctuary cities. Like Reagan, he opposes abortion under any circumstances except to save the life of the mother.
“And we need to repeal Obamacare,” Hagedorn said without hesitation, “We have to return to patient-centered medicine, not Washington-based control of our health care system.”
Of the fourth time being the charm for him, the tenacious Hagedorn laughed and said: “We called our campaign ‘Persistence versus Resistance.’ For five years, we’ve been standing for what the people believe and with [Democratic Rep. Tim] Walz running for governor and out of the race, we were able to take the seat.”
“Jim’s Been Everywhere!” blared campaign radio spots, as Hagedorn campaigned through all 21 counties of the 1st District.
“I walked 350 miles of parades in the last five years,” said the congressman-elect, “It’s like starting in South Dakota, along I-90, hitting Wisconsin, and coming back to Rochester [MN]. I need 100 parades a year to keep my weight down.”
In sharp contrast, Hagedorn emphasized, “My opponent never lived in any of the 21 counties of our district in his life. [Nancy] Pelosi and Company dispatched him out here from Washington. He was an Obama political appointee in the Pentagon. He did serve in the military, and his claim to fame is pushing through the transgender ‘open service’ in the military. But he never said a word about it.
“During debates, I would say ‘Isn’t it amazing? He accomplishes something in Washington and never talks about it.’”
Hagedorn also credits the President and his appearance in Rochester, Minnesota with “energizing the base and making the case between going forward with him or retreating with Pelosi and the liberals.”
Would the business community in the growing metropolis of Rochester convince him to ease his Trump-style line on immigration?
“No, not at all,” Hagedorn replied, “Once we do things such as securing the border, we can have a work program that’s verifiable to fill needed jobs. We can let people come and go as they please and build up credits toward citizenship—if that’s what they want to do. Right now, there’s just lawlessness.
“We’re for legal immigration. One million times a year we do it, we’re the most generous country in the world, and people should not forget that.”
The congressman-elect strongly echoed Trump’s view that the migrants at the southern border are a caravan.
“It seems to be a caravan to me,” he said, “One way or another, there’s a caravan at the border every day, trying to break into our country, put pressure on our taxpayers, put pressure on our workers, and undermine the rule of law. And we have to get to a point where we control our borders and have a system of legal immigration which is good for the people of the U.S.—the citizens of the U.S.”
Hagedorn also embraces Trump’s controversial stand on trade and tariffs—sort of.
“On trade, he’s the President and he gets to negotiate,” said the Minnesotan, “Now I don’t particularly like tariffs. I think they are lucrative for the governments [and] the industries they are trying to protect. But this is part of the negotiation. He campaigned on the fact that China, Mexico, and some of the other countries are getting the advantages over us, that China has cleaned our clock on currency manipulation, is dumping our steel and stealing our intellectual property. He wants to get it right.”
“So our farmers, agribusinesses and others stuck with the President on this one,” said Hagedorn, “It was long overdue. Bush and Obama did a terrible job in that area and someone had to step up and finally take on China. But we have to do this as quickly as possible.”
Of Trump, Hagedorn believes he’s “more popular in our district than he is nationwide—at least his positions are.”
“ People ask me if this is like ’74 —the big rejection of Nixon over Watergate. I say ‘no way.’ It’s like Reagan in ’82. We lost a bunch of seats, including my Dad’s. The farm economy was bad. But what happened two years later? The country overwhelmingly supported Reagan.”
It is almost a foregone conclusion Hagedorn will be sought out for his ideas on how to win. Minnesota Rep. and close friend Tom Emmer is the new chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee and Hagedorn is engaged to marry Minnesota GOP Chairman Jennifer Carnahan, the first-ever Asian American party chairman in the Gopher State.
“I say run on the Democrats’ extremism,” he said, “Whether it’s their embrace of illegal immigration or that 98.5% of House Democrats opposed a bill to outlaw abortions after twenty weeks, they’re extreme. And when people realize this, we win.”