Walz, Hagedorn face off in Tuesday forum in Winona

By Glee Olson, Daily News - The candidates for the U.S. House of Representative’s 1st District spent Tuesday evening in Winona making clear just how differently they see the world, and the path forward for Congress.

Five-term U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, and his second-time Republican challenger Jim Hagedorn, addressed a variety of national issues in a League of Women Voters forum at the Winona City Hall.

Walz used many of his remarks to highlight his bipartisan work in the House, and stress a wide set of skills, from his time as a teacher, football coach and retired Command Sergeant Major in the National Guard.

“Democracy takes more than just voting and having an opinion, it takes being engaged in what’s going on,” Walz said. “It’s about what we can do together to preserve and move towards a more perfect nation.”

Hagedorn pushed his dedication to a platform of stricter border control and immigration reform, leaving gun laws untouched, and less regulation when it comes to issues of the economy and environment.

“I’m running because I believe our country faces some serious problems,” Hagedorn said.

The two occasionally found common ground, but on the majority of issues went in different directions.

When asked what measures would improve elections, Walz mentioned working on improving access wherever possible. He said that includes reforms when it comes to redistricting, as well as addressing the 2010 Citizens United ruling to place reforms and stronger oversight on political donations.

For Hagedorn, the most important aspect of election reform was making sure only legal citizens could vote, he said. Hagedorn also supported only having Congressional candidates being able to fundraise from within their districts.

In a question related to social and racial equality, Hagedorn said the government shouldn’t be heavily involved, while also calling the Black Lives Matter movement “extreme,” and saying it is “every citizen’s duty to obey the law and respect our police.”

Walz meanwhile promoted educational equality and improvements, as well as reforms to the criminal justice system. Walz said those solutions would work toward “bring people together, not finding the divide.”

Regarding a question on military intervention abroad, particularly in the Middle East, Walz said he could support operations as long as they were regarded as the most needed solution. Similarly, he said that in addressing domestic terrorism, the process would likely cross several administration priorities, so looking at the long term was the most important aspect.

“We need to find common ground,” Walz said. “It is not a defining characteristic of us to be led by fear.”

Hagedorn said Walz had a “pre-Sept. 11 mentality” when it came to addressing terrorism, and that instead of giving alleged terrorists Miranda rights, the government needed “to give them the last rites and protect our country.”

Hagedorn also laid blame for the current state of the Middle East on the Democrats in Congress.

“We’re creating a lot of problems with a foreign policy that doesn’t respect stability,” Hagedorn said.

Hagedorn, a Blue Earth businessman, first ran against Walz in 2014. Walz beat Hagedorn with 54 percent of the vote to Hagedorn’s 46 percent in the politically moderate district.

Walz has also well outpaced Hagedorn in fundraising. Records show his campaign had raised $218,665 since April, had $489,459 on hand, and no debt. Walz had raised more than $1.146 million in the election cycle by the July report.

Meanwhile, Hagedorn’s campaign had raised $69,550 since April, had $54,953 on hand and owed $26,833. It had raised $190,189 overall in the campaign cycle.