by Lauren Andrego
MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The countdown to Election Day ticks on and two opponents vying for Minnesota’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives are ramping up campaign efforts in southern Minnesota.
Congressman Jim Hagedorn (MN-01) is once again facing off with DFL-endorsed candidate Dan Feehan.
In 2018, the two candidates came within 1,315 votes of each other, one of the tightest congressional races in the country. On Sunday, the two will meet at the KEYC News Now Congressional Debate.
Meet the Candidate: Dan Feehan
Dan Feehan (DFL) is once again challenging Rep. Jim Hagedorn for the chair of Minnesota’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Hagedorn defeated Feehan by 1,315 total votes in the first race between the two candidates in 2018.
DF: I was a four-year-old kid, living in Red Wing, I had a father running for state senate at the time. And I was the kid who didn’t want to be in a parade on the back of a convertible, but I was. It was hot and it was miserable and I started crying. My little sister’s there, my mom’s there and I started screaming – and my mother, very nicely, quieted me. She gave me context as to why we were there. She said, “We’re doing this for your dad. Your dad’s doing this for other people.” And something about that just clicked. So the idea of serving others is just something I wanted to do.
So when the Pentagon got hit on 9/11, watching it burn, I decided to join the military, which led to two combat tours in Iraq, which then led to serving in a different way as a middle school teacher – which I would argue is a lot harder than serving soldiers in some ways – to serving in the Pentagon, it’s the idea of public service. The idea of political office beyond that is [that] I’ve learned a lot of things along the way. I’ve learned how policy action or inaction is life and death consequences. In war, in education, in so many other ways. And I think the experiences that I’ve had are what’s missing out of Washington right now.
LA: When you lost two years ago we were watching the results all night because it was so close. Why do you think CD-01 is so on the fence right now with whom they want to vote for?
DF: I think what you see out of CD-01, what you see out of southern Minnesotans, they respect and appreciate independence. They respect independent voices because they themselves are independents. This is a district that has voted for Democrats, who has voted for Republicans, and it has an appreciation for the person who’s running. And I think that’s what makes me the best representative for this district. I’ve been an independent voice my whole life, as an Army Officer, as a teacher, serving in the Pentagon, because, at the end of the day, if you’re not advocating for other people, who are you advocating for?
LA: How did your campaign priorities shift when the pandemic really started taking effect in the U.S.?
DF: Your priority doesn’t change. You have to reach people. People need to know that what they are going through, their lived experience, is being acknowledged and being heard and somebody is actually going to do something about it. The priority of people has never changed. This is a people-first campaign. We did town halls to make sure people had the best information possible about this pandemic. We’re putting out good information for workers and people who have been most recently unemployed as well. We’re trying to lead right now because people are actively looking around. I talk to hundreds of people a week and they are exhausted because they don’t see any leadership right now coming out of Washington. And that’s so frustrating, given what they’re going through.
LA: What is your message today to an undecided voter?
DF: Any undecided voter going through the middle of a pandemic right now, I view this as a bigger and larger issue. Prescription drugs are less affordable than they were six months ago, health care is less affordable. The expenses of your life are harder and [it is] harder to pay for every single month that’s happening, and there’s a reason for that. Corporate special interests control politicians in Washington, Republicans and Democrats and including my opponent right now. So the status quo is clearly not working for you. How do we change that? It’s through the mentality and idea that people have to come first, not corporate special interests that aren’t anywhere near southern Minnesota. And that’s what I’m trying to do – fight for you with that in mind.