Hagedorn, Feehan clash in second debate
Republican Jim Hagedorn and Democrat Dan Feehan, candidates for Congress in the First Congressional District, don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues.
Hardly any at all.
But if you were to distill their positions down to a simple philosophy, it would be this: the GOP’s Hagedorn would be a partner and ally of President Trump and keep the country moving in the “right direction,” while the DFL’s Feehan would restore Congress’ role as a check on what he described as a chaotic presidency.
On Tuesday, the two candidates met for the second time in a debate, this one held at Kellogg Middle School and sponsored by KTTC-TV.
Sitting in chairs side-by-side in a forum moderated by news anchor Tom Overlie, Feehan and Hagedorn proposed solutions and policies that rarely overlapped, clashing on health care policy, energy, solutions to climate change, immigration, the legalization of marijuana and Trump’s tit-for-tat trade clash with China.
“This election offers two opportunities, two world views,” said Hagedorn, a former government legislative and public affairs director. “The Democratic Party, they want to take back power, they want to resist and they want to move us far to the left.”
Feehan, an Iraq War veteran and middle school teacher, described Washington, D.C. as broken and dysfunctional, both sides satisfied with little else but finger-pointing.
“I don’t represent that, because I know that the stakes of inaction have life and death consequences,” Feehan said.
Climate change and policy
Their differences stood in sharp relief when the two were asked about climate change and what they would do to combat it.
Hagedorn said the earth has been heating and cooling “since God created it,” and he had yet to see any policy proposal that would deal with climate change in a “way that’s going to solve the problem.”
“What the left proposes — things like the Paris Climate Accord, cap and trade, clean power plant — is to force us to pay dramatically higher electrical, fuel and other costs,” he said.
Feehan argued that climate change is already here and affecting southern Minnesota farmers. It can be be seen in fluctuating temperatures, in surging rainfall rates and 1,000-year storms that happen frequently.
“The impacts are here, so the question is, what are we going to do about it,” he said.
Feehan said the situation presented southern Minnesota with an opportunity to harness renewable energies such as solar and wind and make the area “energy independent.”
But Hagedorn disagreed. He said southern Minnesota was part of a nation that relies on many different energy sources. The U.S. is still reliant on foreign sources for crude oil, and “we’re going to be needing crude for quite some time.”
Hagedorn was also critical of Feehan for offering few details on his energy positions.
“I gave you my energy position, but Dan tells us there’s a problem. He doesn’t tell us what he wants to do,” Hagedorn said.
Feehan said the country’s immigration system is broken, and the consequences of that inaction have fallen “on the backs” of local law enforcement, states and mayors to figure out what to do.
Feehan said he believes comprehensive immigration reform is possible. A solution starts with a guest labor program and a resolution for Dreamers, illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
“Our country can be safe, and we can offer comprehensive immigration reform, because that’s what our economy needs right now to address the labor needs in southern Minnesota,” Feehan said.
Hagedorn said he does not support sanctuary cities and supports defunding them. He said U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a Mankato Democrat who holds the 1st district seat and is running for governor, would turn Minnesota into a sanctuary state if elected that would draw “illegal aliens from a 10-state region and increase crime and costs.”
“We finally have a guy running for president that said, ‘we should fix it,’ and he’s trying to do that,’” Hagedorn said, referring to Trump’s efforts on immigration.
Feehan said the escalating trade war with other countries is “already affecting our economy,” is hurting southern Minnesota farmers and illustrates how “Congress hasn’t been at the table in the middle of a trade war.”
“I don’t buy the argument that southern Minnesota farmers have to take one for the team,” Feehan said. “I don’t buy the argument my opponent said at FarmFest that they should just be patient.”
“I’m going to have their back,” Feehan said.
Hagedorn said he’s not someone who generally believes in tariffs. But he noted that President Trump campaigned on the issue that China was “ripping us off” by manipulating its currency and stealing the intellectual property of U.S. companies.
“Most farmers I’ve talked to — I’d say 95 percent — say, ‘they get it. Something had to be done about China.’ Obama didn’t do anything about China. Bush didn’t do anything.”
Hagedorn argued that Trump’s approach is bearing fruit. A newly revised free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, for one, will help Minnesota dairy farmers by knocking down 300 percent tariffs imposed by Canada.
If elected, “I will do everything to expand trade and open markets for farmers,” Hagedorn said.