Winona Republicans hopeful Trump visit will rally base ahead of midterms
Local Republicans are hopeful that Donald Trump’s visit to southeastern Minnesota on Thursday will bolster turnout and reinvigorate its base heading into the midterm elections next month.
The 45th president will hold a rally scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.
In a statement last week, the state GOP chairman Jennifer Carnahan called the president’s visit a “dream come true.“ That sentiment was echoed by James Doerr, the chair of the Winona County Republicans, who said he was excited to have the president back in Minnesota, a state that features several high-profile races this fall.
“It’s a boost to the local candidates, especially those running for the federal offices, to have the support of the president,” Doerr said of the upcoming visit.
Doerr hopes that excitement combined with the president’s “star power” will be enough to help Republican candidates tip the balance at the polls.
One of those candidates is Jim Hagedorn, a businessman from Blue Earth and staunch supporter of Trump.
Hagedorn is once again running for Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District, a seat he lost to six-term congressman Tim Walz by eight points in 2014 and 2,500 votes in 2016.
With Walz aiming for the governor’s seat, Hegadorn has a new challenger in Democrat Dan Feehan, a former Obama administration official and Red Wing native.
Doerr is convinced, with the president’s help and the full backing of the Republican National Committee, that Hagedorn has his best chance ever of turning the district red.
“We have a lot of excitement around Trump,” he said. “In 2016 you saw people coming out of the woodwork.”
Also on the ballot this fall are three other competitive congressional seats, a governor’s race, two U.S. Senate races and a highly contested battle for the state’s attorney general’s office.
Doerr said with a little more than a month out from the general election the big question is whether or not the party can build enough momentum.
“Hopefully, we have a good turnout,” he said.
While Republicans are rallying around the president, the DFL has plans of its own. At 4 p.m. Thursday, the party will be knocking on doors around Rochester, calling it a kickoff to KNOCK-tober.