By Chuck Hunt, Faribault County Register - Just like Forest Gump, a Blue Earth man is running, and running, and running. And he has been doing it for a long time.
Jim Hagedorn has been running for Minnesota's First Congressional District seat, currently held by Democrat Tim Walz, since last May almost a full year.
"I decided to start right away, as early as I could," Hagedorn says. "There are advantages to doing that. It lets everyone know you are in the race, and it helps with fundraising."
It is also a large district, covering 21 counties across the southern portion of Minnesota, from South Dakota to Wisconsin and down to the Iowa border. That is a lot of territory to cover while campaigning.
And, Hagedorn is getting to know the district very well. He has criss-crossed it often in the past year. He plans to get to every community event, parade, county fair or public gathering he possibly can.
Currently he is attending fundraisers and Republican County Conventions.
"There have been 12 county conventions so far, and I have been to eight of them," Hagedorn says. "I will be to another five next week."
Hagedorn says he sees an energized, unified party that is intent on "getting rid of liberal Tim Walz." Hagedorn has been busy organizing his own campaign committees in each of the 21 counties.
So far, Hagedorn is running unopposed for the Republican Party endorsement to run against Walz in this fall's general election.
The decision on who to endorse will be made at the Republican First District Convention on May 7 in Mankato.
It appears the Blue Earth resident will be the endorsed candidate, which did not happen two years ago when he ran against Walz the first time.
Then, Hagedorn lost the endorsement at the district convention when he faced two other contenders, Aaron Miller and Mike Benson.
But, when the endorsed candidate did not seem to be doing much campaigning, Hagedorn got back in the race and won the primary election.
He lost the general election to Walz, but Hagedorn says it was so close it shocked a lot of people.
"We were supposed to lose big according to the political pundits," he says. "But, I received 45.7 percent of the vote, despite being outspent (by Walz) six to one."
While Hagedorn spent about $250,000 in that first campaign, he hopes to raise about $1 million for the campaign this time.
To do that he has been attending several fundraising events for his campaign around the district including two in Faribault County.
The one in Blue Earth was last Wednesday night at Hamilton Hall and was hosted by Bill Erickson and Mike Enger. An earlier one was held in Wells at the home of Mark and Leah Nowak.
"I am blessed to have some very strong supporters here," Hagedorn says. "People like Bill (Erickson) and Mike (Enger), David Murray and Lowell Borgas, are backing my campaign. And the event in Wells was very nice, well attended, and I thank Mark and Leah (Nowak) for hosting it."
Hagedorn says his campaigning and fundraising is way ahead of what it was for the first time around.
"We are way, way ahead as far as our organization goes," he says. "And while I don't have the endorsement yet, the issues do seem to be resonating with the people I talk to. I am trying to show the difference between Tim Walz and myself on things like defense, terrorism, the economy, our second amendment rights and Obamacare."
What about spending so much time out on the campaign trail? Hagedorn says he loves it.
"It's fun," he says. "I enjoy shaking hands and hearing what people have to say. They tell me what they think. I like that, learning what is important to them."
Hagedorn plans on spending all of the next seven months doing exactly that.
Who is Jim Hagedorn?
Hagedorn was born in Blue Earth to Tom and Kathleen Hagedorn in 1962. His grandparents are Fred and Viola Mittelstadt and Pete and Elaine Hagedorn, all lifelong residents of Blue Earth.
In 1963 the family moved to their grain and hog farm located outside of Truman. In 1964, Hagedorn's father, Tom, was elected to Congress to represent Minnesota's Second Congressional District. The family split their time between Washington DC and Truman.
Hagedorn graduated from George Mason University with a degree in government and politics.
He has worked for former Minnesota Republican congressman Arlan Stangeland and served as director for legislative and public affairs for the Financial Management Service of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Then he worked as the Congressional Affairs Officer for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Treasury Department agency that makes the U.S. currency.
Three years ago Hagedorn moved back home to Minnesota, and has been residing in Blue Earth where he is a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church and the Blue Earth Lions Club.