MANKATO — Blue Earth resident Jim Hagedorn will announce today his re-entry into the Republican race for Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District.
The decision puts him on a collision course with endorsed Republican candidate Aaron Miller of Byron in the August primary. Both candidates are seeking to become the official Republican candidate to challenge Democrat incumbent Rep. Tim Walz of Mankato in the November elections.
Hagedorn’s return is a surprise development in the race, which most regional activists believed was settled when Miller won the 1st District Republican endorsement convention on April 5.
At that convention, Rochester state Rep. Mike Benson was eliminated in the second round and urged his supporters to rally behind Miller, which resulted in Miller taking a large lead in the third ballot. The convention concluded with Hagedorn and Benson calling for delegates to rally around Miller.
Regional and statewide Republican activists held the convention up as a positive contrast with the brutal primary battle in 2012.
Hagedorn said he had originally planned on abiding by the endorsement. He said he thought conceding to Miller was the right thing to do at the time.
“(When I conceded), I wanted to offer the opportunity for the party to have the best shot at winning,” Hagedorn said. “A back room deal was cut between Benson and Miller. The (Olmsted County) block went to Miller. We decided to get out of the way.”
Hagedorn said he only recently decided to return to the race after “numerous delegates from across the district” approached him about “concerns the Miller campaign wasn’t keeping its promises” to Republicans. He said they were particularly concerned about whether Miller was dedicating enough time to the race.
Hagedorn declined to name his supporting delegates.
“The endorsement process is not an absolute entitlement. If he’s not going to run the race, I will,” Hagedorn said. “Miller made a promise to outwork Walz and that hasn’t happened. I can’t stand by and watch our last, best chance to defeat Walz be squandered.”