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Hagedorn’s political career over before it begins

By Staff | May 1, 2010

Jim Hagedorn

Jim Hagedorn knew he was a long shot to garner the Republican nomination for U.S. Congress.

Hagedorn moved from the Washington, D.C., area to his native Blue Earth for the express purpose of trying to get the endorsement to run against incumbent Congressman Tim Walz, Democrat, in the First Congressional District.

“I knew I had an uphill battle,” Hagedorn says. “The other candidates were better known, and had already organized campaign committees in some cases.”

On Saturday, April 17, the Republicans of the First District met in Mankato and chose State Rep. Randy Demmer, of Hayfield, as their candidate to go up against Walz.

It took six hours and eight ballots to get that decision made.

Besides Demmer and Hagedorn, the other two candidates were Allen Quist of St. Peter and Jim Engstrand of Pine Island.

“My plan was to be in third place after the first ballot, then gain votes from the fourth place candidate, move into second place and make it a two-man race,” Hagedorn explains.

Unfortunately, he was in fourth place with 16 percent of the votes after the first ballot, just behind Engstrand.

“Some of the votes pledged to me decided to go with Jim (Engstrand) on the first ballot, as an emotional response to his recent service in Iraq,” Hagedorn says.

The Blue Earth resident had to drop out after the fourth ballot. Engstrand went out after six, and then it was a two-man race between Demmer and Quist. Quist conceded after the eighth ballot.

“I was the second choice of many of the delegates,” Hagedorn says. “But not their first. I think I needed a little more time to get them to know me better – they didn’t reject me, they just didn’t know me.”

That could be because Hagedorn has spent the last 20 years working in Washington as a congressional assistant or as a lobbyist, and has not spent much time in Minnesota.

Now that his campaigning days are over, Hagedorn is pondering his future.

“It is my intention to stay in Blue Earth and Southern Minnesota,” he says. “If there is one thing I have learned, it is that the people here are so friendly, much more so than in Washington.”

Hagedorn owns a home in Blue Earth and has a job in the area, working at a medical equipment company called ElectroMed, Inc., in New Prague. They make equipment called a smart vest for combating breathing disorders. Hagedorn says he negotiates solutions to problems with government regulations, marketing, and other corporate issues. “I am not leaving politics,” he quickly adds. “I plan to do what I can to help Republican candidates, and to continue to promote conservative ideas and values.” Previous to declaring himself a candidate, Hagedorn had written a column called “Mr. Conservative.” He still plans to write a column, but now it is simply a blog at jimhagedorn.org. He says he has always enjoyed writing. “My goal is to still be part of the resurgence of conservatism,” Hagedorn says. “Returning to the ideas of the Reagan years, with strong growth and rejecting the socialistic policies of the current administration.” Does he have any regrets with spending so much time and energy trying to get the nomination? “No regrets,” he says. “If you are doing what you feel is right, and do it the right way, God guides you and you have nothing to regret.” Besides, he quickly adds, the experience has given him the opportunity to meet a lot of nice people. “I’ve enjoyed meeting and getting to know folks like David Murray, Loren Lein, Mike Enger and Wes Hafner (new pastor at St. Paul Lutheran),” Hagedorn explains. “There are a lot of good folks here.” It also has been an excellent experience for him to get to know several of his relatives in the area better. “I have had a lot of fun visiting with my Aunt Gladys (Schwen),” he says. “She just turned 97 and is still going strong.”