Dan Feehan, the Democrat who lost his bid for Minnesota’s 1st District congressional seat by less than half a percentage point, is back for a rematch against GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn.
The southern Minnesota district, which is heavily agricultural and rural, has become tough terrain for Democrats. The district backed President Donald Trump by 15 points in 2016, and it is one of two Minnesota seats Republicans flipped last fall.
But Hagedorn, the son of a former congressman, defeated Feehan by less than half of one percentage point in 2018 after losing the general election race for this seat two times before.
National Democrats are excited about the return of Feehan, an Iraq War veteran. But Feehan knows he needs to distance himself from what’s going on in Washington, D.C. He supports the impeachment inquiry that Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last week, but he’s not planning to talk about it much in Minnesota.
“It’s not something I’m focused on,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday after he announced his 2020 campaign. “I’m worried it will become the single and sole focus in Washington when the farm economy is on the brink and prescription drug prices are rising.”
With Trump on the ballot in 2020, this cycle could look different from 2018, when the Democratic-Farmer-Labor nominee for governor was Tim Walz. The 1st District Congressman won statewide by more than 11 points last fall and carried the district by 2 points.
The 1st District narrowly backed former President Barack Obama in 2012 —and by a slightly larger margin in 2008 — before swinging to Trump in 2016. Feehan signaled that the president’s trade war and its effects on farmers will be a central part of his campaign message.
In a departure from 2018, Feehan’s 2020 announcement video explicitly highlights Hagedorn’s past offensive comments. He once referred to Washington state’s female senators as “bimbos.” In 2018, Democrats steered clear of those controversial comments in their messaging. Feehan’s paid communications were all about health care and overhauling the political system.
“I don’t know that it will change,” Feehan said about his strategy. “We will be talking about the consequences of his actions, not his words.”
He added that his 2020 video is an attempt to introduce the congressman and draw a comparison. Feehan is continuing to hit Hagedorn on health care and economic issues, accusing him of “standing in silent support of economic uncertainty for our farmers while spreading hate and division in our communities.”
Hagedorn is a top Democratic target in 2020. The National Republican Congressional Committee has added him to its Patriot Program for vulnerable members. The GOP freshman ended the 2nd quarter with $321,000 in the bank. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates his reelection Leans Republican.
Former New York Rep. Claudia Tenney announced a rematch Tuesday against Democrat Anthony Brindisi in the 22nd District. Former Iowa Rep. David Young is running again in the 3rd District, while former California Rep. Darrell Issa is running in the 50th District after retiring in the 49th District last fall. Former Rep. David Valadao is trying again for the 21st District.