NEW ULM - Jim Hagedorn of Blue Earth is back in the First Congressional District Republican race after announcing this weekend he would challenge the endorsed candidate Aaron Miller in the primary.
Hagedorn, who had pulled out of the campaign to support Miller when Miller was still short of the endorsement, said concern among Republican activists that Miller was not mounting a very active campaign led him to reconsider.
"He was 12 votes short of the endorsement, and at that point anything can happen," said Hagedorn. "We thought in that situation, the way things were working out, the right thing to do was to get out of his way and give him his shot and go after Walz. After six weeks of a campaign that wasn't very active, we thought for the same reasons, we got back in. It was the right thing to do for the party and the best chance to beat Walz."
Hagedorn said since the convention Miller's campaign has been inactive. "No active campaign ongoing against Congressman Walz. No press releases based on the issues going after Walz, no position papers on the web site," said Hagedorn. "The congressman was literally outworking our challenger, which is kind of unheard of since he's still got to be congressman."
Miller campaign spokesman Joe Meyer denied Wednesday that the campaign has been inactive.
"We have been working full time for the election," Meyer said. "One of the big jobs in a campaign is fundraising, and Aaron has been doing a lot of fundraising to match the congressman's war chest. We've been to meetings, we've done 27 radio interviews in six weeks, we've met with countless editorial boards, we've been to every county in the district."
Meyer said Miller was in the Syttende Mai parade last Sunday, for example.
In the meantime, both candidates say they are focusing on Walz, a Democrat from Mankato who is seeking his fifth term.
Hagedorn called for the repeal of Obamacare, and using free market reforms to lower the cost of health care. He would institute health savings accounts, and let people shop for their best health bargains. He would get health care tax credits for the savings accounts directly to the people, and let them carry their portable benefits from job to job. He would also encourage tort reform for medical malpractice to keep costs down.
"The only thing I'd keep is a pool of insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, so they don't have to pay excessive costs."
On energy, Hagedorn said Walz is a cap and trade extremist who supports high cost energy that's not going to provide for users' needs. Hagedorn would promote all forms of energy, from low cost coal, to opening federal lands to oil and gas exploration, and support nuclear power, renewable energy and conservation. He would invest in the infrastructure of oil and gas pipelines to get the energy where it is needed.
On federal spending, Hagedorn said he would push for limited federal spending. He would do away with baseline budgeting, where budgets are set on past spending, and go for zero-based budgeting. He would push for a top to bottom review of government agencies, starting with the Pentagon.
Hagedorn would be more active in combatting regulations that are stifling industry, and push for tax reform.