MN-01: Jim Hagedorn (R)
Jim Hagedorn was born in Blue Earth, Minnesota, in 1962, to parents Thomas, a grain and livestock farmer, and Kathleen, a homemaker. Jim’s grandparents, Fred and Viola Mittelstadt and Pete and Elaine Hagedorn, were all lifelong Blue Earth residents.
In 1963 the family moved from Blue Earth to their 160 acre grain and hog farm located just outside the small town of Truman.
Jim’s formative years were spent on the Truman farm. His father and grandfather were full-time farmers and, as partners, regularly worked 1,000 acres or more. Jim helped work the land, walk the bean fields, feed the hogs, maintain the property, and developed a firsthand understanding of farming and the business side of agriculture.
Growing up on the farm was also fun, as Jim and younger sisters, Heidi and Tricia, would ride horses and play games. Living on a farm and being part of a rural community ingrained, in Jim, small town values and an appreciation for country living.
It was during the “Truman years” that Jim was taught, by his parents, about God and the salvation of Jesus Christ. The family regularly worshiped at Truman’s St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, and Jim attended his church’s parochial grade school. (Jim remains a weekly worshiper and is a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, LCMS, in Blue Earth)
Truman was also where Jim participated in numerous sporting activities, including Little League baseball, golf, fishing, snowmobiling, and was also a Cub Scout. At age 6, during a family fishing trip to Lake of the Woods (Baudette, Minnesota), Jim caught a 13lb. 6 oz. northern pike off the dock, with no bait, and won “fisherman of the week.”
In 1974, Jim’s father was elected to Congress to represent southern Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District. Shortly thereafter the family began splitting time between Washington, D.C. and Minnesota – spending the school year in the Virginia suburbs of DC and returning each summer to the Truman farm.
While attending Langley, a public high school, Jim was a member of the varsity tennis team and excelled in political debate. During high school, Jim saved for college and his first automobile (a 1969 Mustang convertible that he still owns) by delivering newspapers, mowing lawns, and teaching tennis as an assistant professional.
Throughout Thomas Hagedorn’s congressional career, Jim learned about national politics firsthand and interacted with notable politicians and famous leaders, including Jack Kemp, Henry Hyde and Ronald Reagan, who, along with his father, are Jim’s political heroes. Jim met candidate Reagan in 1979 at a Hagedorn Mankato fundraiser and then again in 1981 when President Reagan invited Jim and his father to the Oval Office to discuss a letter-to-the editor that Jim had written in defense of Reagan economic policies.
Beginning at age 18, Jim worked full-time jobs as a busboy and telephone salesman to self-finance his education. Jim was accepted to George Mason University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Politics.
In 1984, Jim was hired as the legislative assistant to former Minnesota Republican Congressman Arlan Stangeland. Jim handled an array of issues and successfully managed the Congressman’s legislative agenda, including stewardship of H.R. 916, a 1987-88 bipartisan “workfare” bill that required able-bodied welfare recipients to work for benefits. This bill was conceptually enacted into law shortly after Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in 1994.
From 1991 to 1998, Jim served as the Director for Legislative and Public Affairs for the Financial Management Service, the U.S. Department of the Treasury agency responsible for the management of more than $2 trillion in Federal funds.
Jim utilized his position as the agency’s congressional liaison to orchestrate the enactment of several bills to reform government. The highlight of his legislative success was the 1995-96 enactment of H.R. 1698, the “Mandatory Electronic Funds Transfer Act of 1995,” a measure that Mr. Hagedorn devised to require the use of electronic funds transfer/Direct Deposit (rather than expensive paper checks) to disburse hundreds of millions of federal payments. Jim’s commonsense government reform idea saves taxpayers more than $100 million each year and led to the closure of four government check processing centers. [Note that H.R. 1698 was enacted into law as part of Public Law 104-134, the “Omnibus Recessions and Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1996” and is commonly referred to as EFT ’99.]
Next, Jim accepted a position as Congressional Affairs Officer for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Department of the Treasury agency that manufactures U.S. paper currency. Again, Jim successfully combined his legislative expertise and executive Treasury position to work with the Congress to enact legislation designed to drive down costs.
In 2005 Jim thwarted a Bush administration policy to merge the nation’s coin and currency agencies, an idea that would have cost taxpayers $500 million for no added value, and transferred power from career civil servants to partisan political appointees. At great risk to his career, Jim crafted an appropriations provision and worked with the Congress and interested parties, including unions, to prohibit the use of federal funds to merge the Bureau of Engraving and Printing into the United States Mint. This spending prohibition remains in force today and for this accomplishment Jim enjoys support from both management and organized labor.
In 2014, Jim won a hotly contested Republican primary election, and then went on to receive 45.7 percent of the vote against incumbent Democrat congressman Tim Walz in the November general election. Jim won six counties and amassed the highest percentage vote against Walz since his election to congress in 2006.
Jim announced his candidacy for the 2016 election on May 12, 2015. Jim received the endorsement of Minnesota’s First District Republican Party on May 7, 2016, and handily won the August 9th Republican primary election, 76.5% – 23.5%.
Jim came up just short of defeating incumbent Democrat Tim Walz and pulling off the biggest congressional upset of the November 8, 2016, general election. Hagedorn won the overwhelming majority of southern Minnesota’s precincts and carried 13 of the First District’s 21 counties, six by 60% or more of the vote. The 50.3% – 49.6% result (Walz 169,071 – Hagedorn 166,524) was the 12th closest congressional election in Minnesota’s history.
In a December 2016 speech to the Minnesota Republican Party’s State Central Committee Hagedorn announced his commitment to running for a third consecutive election cycle. Hagedorn’s back-to-back-to-back campaigns follow successful similar efforts undertaken by former Minnesota Congressman John Kline, current Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson and former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich.
Jim resides in Blue Earth.
The biographical information above was sourced from the campaign website; see link above for more information.
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