Rep. Hagedorn of Minnesota Dies After Cancer Battle

February 18, 2022 by Dan McCue
Rep. Hagedorn of Minnesota Dies After Cancer Battle
Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn.

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., died Thursday night after a two-year-long battle with kidney cancer. His wife, former Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan, made the announcement Friday morning via her Facebook page.

The congressman was 59.

In a post accompanied by a photo from the couple’s wedding, Carnahan said her husband “loved our country and loved representing the people of southern Minnesota.” 

“Every moment of every day he lived his dream by serving others,” she continued, adding, “There was no stronger conservative in our state than my husband; and it showed in how he voted, led and fought for our country.”


 “Jim was a loving husband, son, brother, uncle, cousin, nephew, friend, brother-in-law, son-in-law, Vikings, Penguins and Twins fan and will be missed and remembered by many,” she added. 

Hagedorn had been battling kidney cancer since 2019 and was under observation at Mayo Clinic after testing positive for COVID-19 last month. He was reportedly vaccinated and Carnahan said he had “very mild symptoms.”

In 2016, Hagedorn challenged then-Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., losing by just 2,500 votes. He ran for and won his seat in 2018, when Walz quit Congress to run successfully for governor.

With Hagedorn’s victory, representing Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District became something of a family tradition. His father, Tom Hagedorn, represented the same district in Congress in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In Congress, Jim Hagedorn sat on both the Agriculture and Small Business committees and was a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee.

The younger Hagedorn began his involvement in public service while still in school in the mid-1980s.

He served as a legislative aide to Rep. Arlan Stangeland, R-Minn., from 1984 to 1991, and he worked in the United States Department of the Treasury as director for legislative and public affairs for the Financial Management Service from 1991 to 1998.

During this time, Hagedorn attended George Mason University, from which he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in government and political science in 1993.


He later worked as a congressional affairs officer for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, leaving that job in 2009. 

Despite the strong start, Hagedorn’s career was not without controversy. For six years between 2002 and 2008, he authored a blog, “Mr. Conservative,” that critics charged was rife with sexist and Islamophobic comments, as well as diatribes against President Barack Obama, Native Americans and others.

Hagedorn responded by trying to explain the blog was intended to be satirical, but it led to the Washington Examiner editorial that labeled him “the worst midterm candidate in America” in 2018.

In 2020, Hagedorn wrote that the Democratic Party and Black Lives Matter movement “are at war with our country, our beliefs and western culture.” These and similar comments led several corporate donors, including Intel and UnitedHealth Group, to ask Hagedorn to return their donations.

UnitedHealth Group had at that point donated $7,500 to his reelection campaign, making it one of his largest corporate contributors, while Intel donated $4,000 to his campaign in late 2018.

In a statement UnitedHealth Group said at the time that it was “unaware of these egregious and hurtful statements attributed to Rep. Hagedorn and they in no way reflect the values of our company. We regret our past contributions, and will not make any future contributions to him.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, Hagedorn was among the Republicans who objected to the certification of the 2020 presidential election results in Congress based on unproven claims of voter fraud.

Upon learning of Hagedorn’s death, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “the whole House joins Minnesotans and the Hagedorn family in mourning the loss” of the congressman.

“Public service was in Congressman Hagedorn’s DNA. Following in the footsteps of his father, who also served in the House, Congressman Hagedorn began his career as a Congressional staffer and then served at the U.S. Department of the Treasury before winning election to the House in his own right in 2018,” she continued. “A proud son of Minnesota, descended from three generations of farmers, he brought a committed voice for his constituents to the Committee on Agriculture as well as the Committee on Small Business.”

Also commenting was former President Donald Trump, who counted Hagedorn among his most dependable supporters in Congress.


“Congressman Jim Hagedorn was a strong and effective legislator for the great people of Southern Minnesota. I campaigned with Jim in 2018, and enjoyed working with him in Congress. May he rest in Peace, and his family find comfort during this difficult time. He will be greatly missed!” Trump said via email.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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