Mr. Hagedorn goes to Washington
Since his election to the U.S. Congress on Nov. 6, Blue Earth resident and native son Jim Hagedorn has been busy.
He has been selecting staff members, opening two congressional district offices (one in Mankato, one in Rochester), flying back and forth to Washington for ‘freshman’ (first time elected congressman) orientation, spending Thanksgiving with family and getting married.
That’s right, he got married. It was the first marriage for both Hagedorn, 56, and Jennifer Carnahan, 42.
“We were married on Dec. 15, in Santa Barbara, in Southern California,” Hagedorn says. “It is where Jennifer always wanted to get married. So I have joined the ranks of all you other married folks.”
Carnahan ran for Minnesota State Senate in 2016 and lost. But, in 2017, she was elected to be the Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman. She was third on the first ballot behind two others, but eventually was the one selected.
When Hagedorn was running for the third time for the First District Congressional Seat in 2018, the couple revealed they weredating. There was some concern about conflict of interest, but it was decided that with full disclosure, and the fact the state party did not have a lot of input in a congressional race, nothing was deemed improper.
The honeymoon was to Orlando, Florida, where the couple attended the Camping World College Bowl game which featured Syracuse University, Carnahan’s alma mater.
“We also had to do the usual Orlando theme park trip,” Hagedorn jokes. “Doesn’t everyone go to Harry Potter World on their honeymoon?”
But, immediately after the trip Hagedorn was flying to Washington on New Year’s Eve to get ready to go to work. He was scheduled to be sworn in on Thursday, Jan. 3, and got right to work later that same day.
Hagedorn says he already accomplished one thing on his to-do list.
“My first highlight here was during the office selection process,” he explains. “I was able to get the same office that my father first had 44 years ago.”
Hagedorn’s father, Tom Hagedorn, served in the U.S. Congress from 1975 to 1983. He represented what was then the Second Congressional District.
Hagedorn knows one concern he and other congressmen and congresswomen will face is the current government shutdown issue.
“The Democrats will be in control of the House (of Representatives) starting this week,” Hagedorn says. “It will be up to them how best to proceed. They may work something out.”
He says he has met a lot of the incoming members of congress, both Republicans and Democrats.
“They all seem pretty nice,” he says. “But when it comes time for the session to start, they often suit up for battle.”
As for Hagedorn himself, he has a lot of things he would like to see accomplished.
“The Congress did pretty well last session, getting some things passed,” he explains. “But then the last 25 percent of bills got lumped together as one continuous resolution. I don’t like how that works. That process tends to end up in a mess.”
Hagedorn wants to work on agriculture issues and promote rural and economic development. He wants to defend patient centered medical care and protect rural hospitals.
“I want to help get government off people’s backs,” he says. “Federal and state for that matter regulations are over the top. I heard about it across the district regulations, regulations, regulations. They affect farmers, bankers, businesses and local governments. It costs so much to try and comply and many are just plain silly.”
Overall, Hagedorn says his main goal is to help people. And if people have an issue he can help with, he urges them to contact his offices in the district.
“I get that it is a big part of this job,” he said. “And it is why I was elected to serve the people of the First District. And I am humbled and honored and excited to have been given this opportunity to serve.”
Hagedorn had to work hard just to get elected. He has basically been on the campaign trail for the past nearly six years, with little time off. He lost two very close races to now governor Tim Walz, then had a hard-fought, expensive and nearly tied race against Democrat opponent Dan Feehan.
“My opponent outspent me by two and a half times,” Hagedorn said. “I spent about $1.5 million, while he had $4 million dumped into his campaign. There was probably another $10 million to $13 million put in by national organizations. It was a tough year. This was one of only two congressional seats that flipped to the Republicans.”
Hagedorn says he is proud of the fact that his hometown and home county voted for him by a good majority.
He adds that he has heard some folks think he is moving to Washington permanently. That is just not true, he said.
“I am going to stay living in Blue Earth,” he explains. “In my same house I have been in for the past five and a half years. I am not moving out. I plan on coming back home as much as I can, on weekends or during congressional recess.”
He adds he will try and get to his home church, St. Paul Lutheran in Blue Earth, as much as he possibly can. And maybe a Blue Earth Lions Club meeting once in a while.
“Blue Earth is still my home,” Hagedorn says. “And I plan on staying connected with all the small towns across the district as much as I can.”