Southern Minnesota is about to get into the congressional election spirit.

Dan Feehan’s Tuesday announcement he would run once more against Rep. Jim Hagedorn for control of the region’s House seat means we’re about to get a glut of attention from national Democrats and Republicans.

Hagedorn beat Feehan by about 1,300 votes out of about 300,000 cast last November. That narrow margin ensures southern Minnesota will be among the most watched (and most financed) congressional races in 2020.

Case in point: Feehan’s campaign staff said Wednesday he had garnered more than $100,000 in donations during the first 24 hours of his candidacy. And Gov. Tim Walz, who represented southern Minnesota in Congress before Hagedorn, has endorsed Feehan, of North Mankato, once more.

“As a soldier, a teacher, a public servant, and a family man, he is the right fit to represent this district in Congress,” Walz said in a press release issued Friday. “The people of southern Minnesota would be well served by having Dan as their next congressman.”

Yet Hagedorn thinks he’s got the pulse of the district. The Blue Earth Republican makes a habit out of showing up to community events and summer parades, and he’s made about 36 weekend trips back to Minnesota for various meetings with small businesses and other organizations since he took office in January.

“I’m at Washington about a third of the time; I’m back here about two-thirds of the time,” he said.

Hagedorn plans to visit Watonwan County next week as part of his planned series of town halls. He’ll take questions from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday inside the Madelia High School Auditorium in Madelia. Watonwan County attendees who present valid government-issued IDs will get priority to ask questions, while other southern Minnesotans will be able to ask questions after, time permitting.

Feehan will host a campaign kick-off rally in Mankato at 11 a.m. Sunday at Sibley Park.

On impeachment

President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and the implication he tried to persuade foreign governments to investigate his political rivals has put a new spin on the 2020 election.

House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry appears to be gaining steam as more details surrounding Trump’s call to the Ukrainian president on July 25 become public. And now our elected officials are being called to publicly state where they stand on the inquiry.

Hagedorn, who has long supported Trump, made his views on the inquiry clear Friday.

“I don’t support it,” Hagedorn said. “I think it’s baseless, reckless, divisive and it’s politically oriented. It’s unwarranted to try to remove a duly elected president of the United States. I oppose it and won’t vote for it.”

Hagedorn was at the Mankato Regional Airport Friday to tout the recent $338,000 in federal funding the airport received to improve its runways and build new taxiways. He said Congress could do more to adopt an infrastructure bill or other bipartisan legislation if the Democrat-controlled House would drop its investigations into Trump.

“I fear that, unfortunately, the politics of what’s going on with the Democrat Party is interfering with the progress of the nation,” Hagedorn said.

Trump and officials in his administration have repeatedly been accused of corruption or colluding with foreign governments to influence elections, such as the Trump campaign’s potential dealings with Russian nationals during the 2016 presidential election. While investigators under Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller did not find Trump colluded with Russia, Mueller’s team outlined numerous attempts by Trump and administration officials to obstruct the investigation.

Feehan hasn’t made impeachment talk part of his opening volley against Hagedorn thus far. He’s told various outlets, from the Star Tribune to Roll Call, he prefers to talk about the health care and economic needs of the district, but he believes Hagedorn isn’t taking Trump’s potential abuse of power seriously.

Reporter Trey Mewes can be reached at tmewes@mankatofreepress.com.

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