GOOD THUNDER — In his first speech as a 1st District candidate, Jim Hagedorn of Blue Earth staked out conservative positions and promised a “street fight with the left.”
Much of his address, held at a farm just south of Good Thunder, focused on contrasts with the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Tim Walz of Mankato. He said Walz poses as a friend of the farmer and veteran, but votes against their interests.
Hagedorn, 51, called Walz the most liberal congressman to represent southern Minnesota, and criticized his positions on immigration, cap and trade and the size of government.
“And I’m going to go after the Environmental Protection Agency,” he said.
But he saved his biting criticism for Obamacare, which he said was like a cancer injected into our health care system. When asked what provisions he dislikes the most, Hagedorn predicted that excessive regulations on insurance companies will eventually put them out of business and lead government to step in.
Hagedorn will be first competing against other Republicans for the nomination. He said his experience makes him a better candidate than the two other entrants, state Rep. Mike Benson of Rochester and biopharmaceutical salesman Aaron Miller of Byron.
In the '80s, Hagedorn was the legislative assistant to former Minnesota Rep. Arlan Stangeland, and helped to create the “workfare” bill that was eventually passed when Republicans won power in 1994.
Hagedorn went on to work in the Treasury Department, including as the director for legislative and public affairs in the department’s Financial Management Service.
Hagedorn’s father, Tom, represented southern Minnesota in Congress from 1975 to 1983.
In holding his campaign announcement at a farm, Hagedorn meant to emphasize his support of farmers and criticize Walz on the topic.
As elsewhere, corn and soybeans predominate on this farm, but a handful of nearby hog barns hold about 4,000 sows, said one of Hagedorn’s hosts, Paul Fitzsimmons. He said he agreed to host the event because Hagedorn understands agriculture and would be a strong voice for farmers.
Hagedorn said Walz’s support of a cap and trade proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions, Obamacare and environmental regulation puts him at odds with farmers’ interests.
There was also a sense of a grander purpose, of a government fighting its people, in Hagedorn’s choice of words. He said Americans have started to fear their government, calling it a “soft tyranny.”
And he described his work in the Treasury Department as “behind enemy lines.”
He boasted of cutting bureaucratic jobs while improving services while working there.
The 50 or so enthusiastic attendees got to their feet twice; once for veteran Jack Zimmerman, who lost his legs to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, and once at the end of Hagedorn’s speech.