It’s an open seat in a swing district. Voters here backed Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump. It’s fiercely independent and hard to predict. Minnesota’s First Congressional District has the attention of the nation. Control of Congress could be decided in this agricultural area of southern Minnesota that also boasts booming regional centers such as Rochester’s world famous Mayo Clinic and the ever expanding college town of Mankato.

Republican Jim Hagedorn whose father represented the district has run and lost two times before, but he thinks three times is the charm and knows the seat could be a big pick up nationally for the GOP that’s bringing “more money, more attention.”  Democrat Dan Feehan is a teacher with a military background just like Democrat Congressman Tim Walz who’s vacating the seat to run for governor, for Democrats to take over Congress he says “you have to hold on to what you have.”

The candidates are approaching President Trump completely differently. Hagedorn says “I’m a conservative Republican that wants to keep the country moving in the right direction, so we offer the opportunity to stand with our president.” Feehan responds “We’re presenting a pretty clear choice, you can vote for an extension of the Trump administration or you can vote for an independent voice.”

Agriculture and healthcare are the issues dominating the district and they’re related. Farmers have struggled with healthcare costs and soybeans dot the prairie whose producers aren’t sure about the global market for them. The last congressional race here decided by less than one percentage point, that makes this one to watch.

    Mary Lahammer
    Anchor, Reporter, Producer covering politics, government, history, food for Twin Cities PBS since 1998.