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Meet the Republican candidate who wants to take Lincoln off Mount Rushmore

A conservative writer nominated him as "the worst Republican candidate in America." Here's why.

Jim Hagedorn, Republican nominee for Minnesota's 1st Congressional district
Jim Hagedorn, Republican nominee for Minnesota's 1st Congressional district, in 2017. CREDIT: Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call

Three-time loser Jim Hagedorn, the man Minnesota Republicans nominated earlier this month for the open 1st District Congressional seat, is hoping that the fourth try is the charm.

He’s also hoping that his lengthy record of sexist, homophobic, racist, religious-intolerant, classist, anti-Native American, ageist, hypocritical, and all-around extremist writings will not again come back to haunt him.  But while he has deleted his bombastic Mr. Conservative blog, news sites on the left and right have again proven the adage that on the internet, nothing ever goes away.

According to the Cook Political Report, the district is 5 points more Republican than the average district. With incumbent Rep. Tim Waltz (D) running for governor, the open seat is considered a toss-up this November. But Hagedorn, who easily won the August 14 primary, was described by a conservative Washington Examiner writer as “the worst midterm candidate in America.”

He was also described as having “the political acumen of Rick Saccone and the misogynistic mind of Blake Farenthold, combined with the winning track record of the pre-2016 Chicago Cubs.”

Jim Hagedorn in 2015.
Jim Hagedorn in 2015. CREDIT: Hagedorn campaign Facebook page.

Hagedorn’s archived writings, preserved by local and national media, reveal:

  • Blatant sexism: In his self-described “Masterpiece Analysis” of the 2002 election, Hagedorn made his views on women clear. He urged California Republicans to nominate “good looking female actresses with nice boobs,” like “Heather Lockler [sic].” He praised “Democrat [sic] Senator Mary Landrieu” of Louisiana as “one of those rare finds: a liberal babe.” He mocked Democratic Maryland gubernatorial nominee Kathleen Kennedy Townsend as “an unattractive candidate if there ever was one,” calling her “a dog” and someone with “ugly qualities.” He speculated that a “harsh, strained appearance also penetrates Townsend’s face during sex.” He attacked North Carolina Republican Senate nominee Elizabeth Dole as “Bob Dole in drag.” And just for good measure, he belittled Democratic Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell as “undeserving bimbos in tennis shoes.” Six years later, he publicly thanked Republican John McCain for picking “Caribou Barbie” Sarah Palin as his running mate “on behalf of all red-blooded American men”, praising her for being “hot.” Despite all that, his current campaign site claims that he “understands and embraces” Minnesota’s “traditional values.”
  • Intense homophobia: In a 2004 essay called “Tolerance v. Acceptance,” Hagedorn made it clear that he thinks consensual relationships between same-sex couples should still be criminal in the United States.  The screed denounced the 2003 Supreme Court decision in “Lone Star Sodomites v. God and Country (Lawrence et al v. Texas)” as “an abomination on par with the deviancy it attempted to condone,” and lambasted the 6 justices in the majority for striking down “a dwindling number of rarely enforced morals laws by which States, in essence, prohibited two-way traffic in tunnels constructed by God and marked by nature as ‘exit only.'” He predicted that the effort by “homosexuals [to] achieve normalcy in our civilized society” would be one they would “surely lose,” despite “the Left’s expeditious exploration of a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.” This is right in keeping with his gay-baiting 2002 attacks on a Montana Republican Senate nominee and a Democratic Wisconsin senator and his 2008 description of same-sex marriage as “ass backward behavior.” This seems to contradict the “social issues” page on his 2014 campaign site in which he wrote that although he “believes marriage should be between one man and one woman,” he also “believes in tolerance and treating every person with dignity.” It seems right in line, however, with his Facebook post last week denouncing the “transgendered [sic] agenda.”
  • Intolerance of different religions: Like his party’s leader, Hagedorn has repeatedly displayed a callous Islamaphobia, dehumanizing Muslim people and opposing their civil rights. In 2001, then-Congressman John Cooksey (R-LA) infamously urged police interrogation of anyone with a “diaper on his head and a fan belt wrapped around the diaper on his head.” A few months later, Hagedorn praised him for slurring “Islamists as ‘dipper [sic] heads'” and called the idea “commonsense diplomacy.” In 2016, when his then-opponent Walz spoke out against anti-Muslim bigotry, Hagedorn publicly denounced this as “politically correct pro-Muslim lecturing.” Just this month, he fear-mongered about “extremist Islamic supremacists” and boasted that he had proposed “extreme vetting and a refugee program timeout” in 2015 — “even before Donald Trump.” But his religious intolerance also extends to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In 2002, he wrote that Republican Mitt Romney would likely win the Massachusetts governorship that year despite his “failure to move all of his wives and children to Massachusetts.” Amazingly, his campaign website today praises “the freedom to express one’s faith without government interference, coercion or suppression,” and claims that “Jim will vigilantly protect that right against those who might wish to violate it.”
  • Disdain for poor, rural, and indigenous people: Hagedorn’s campaign website makes the claim that he stands for “rural values” embodied by Southern Minnesotans. “Jim Hagedorn understands and embraces these values because he was taught them and lived them while growing up on a farm near Truman. Jim believes and ardently supports these values to this day,” it says. That was hardly evident when he wrote that an Alabama Democrat challenging Republican Jeff Sessions appealed to the state’s “intellectual and upper classes (10th grade education/outright ownership of mobile home,” but not “the other 98% of Bama voters.” Noting that Iowa voters in 2008 were considering a ballot initiative to remove an archaic clause preventing an “idiot or insane person” from voting, Hagedorn opined that this “confirms suspicions that Iowa actually stands for ‘Idiots Out Walking Around.'” Moreover, he described the non-Las Vegas parts of Nevada as “nuclear waste and thankless Indians.” He accused South Dakota Democrats of collecting absentee ballots at “redistribution of wealth centers…err…casino parlors…err…Indian Reservations” from “chiefs and squaws who had returned to the spirit many moons ago,” and quoted “John Wayne’s wisdom of the only good Indian being a dead Indian.”
  • Outright disdain for the elderly and veterans: In 2002, he wrote that “Alaska perpetually returns older-than-icebergs Republican Senator Ted Stevens to Washington,” but opined that he and Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) “are living arguments for term limits, mandatory retirement age laws and a parliamentary system of government.” He similarly mocked Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), calling him a “Cadavar” who would be moved “back to the rest home” after the election and he asked whether Virginia Sen. John Warner (R) was really a just a ghost. Nevertheless, his 2018 campaign site asserts that Hagedorn believes life “should be protected from conception to natural death. Jim will fight to protect the lives of the most vulnerable and innocent among us including infants, (born & unborn), the elderly and the disabled.” His concern for the latter group was less than evident when he predicted the 2002 defeat of Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), a triple-amputee from wounds suffered while he served in Vietnam, heartlessly joking “adios, half-soldier.”
  • A stunning lack of self-awareness. Though he mocked Romney as a “transplanted Mormon” and “carpetbagger,” Hagedorn’s own residency has repeatedly been an issue. A local paper in 2013 called him a “Blue Earth native and sometimes resident” who was “back to try again” for Congress. A campaign mailer for his 2018 primary opponent noted that he’d “spent most of his career working as a Washington, D.C. insider, living in a completely different state.” “Jim Hagedorn only moved to Minnesota to run for political office,” she wrote, “He doesn’t even own a home in the state.”
Jim Hagedorn represents the SWAMP
CREDIT: Carla Nelson for Congress campaign literature

Furthermore, he repeatedly threw shade at Vice President Dick Cheney for a “record number of D.W.I. convictions.” But in 2014, after a local Republican chairman accused Hagedorn of having had drunk driving arrests himself, he acknowledged having been arrested in 1983 in Fairfax County, Virginia for driving while intoxicated — a charge he pleaded guilty to. “It wasn’t my proudest moment. Luckily, nobody got hurt,” Hagedorn he told a Minnesota local newspaper.

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After Hagedorn’s writings garnered media coverage in 2014, he initially refused to apologize for “old stuff that’s been out there for years.” Eventually he penned a sort-of-apology acknowledging that “some of my hard-hitting and tongue-in-cheek commentary was less than artfully constructed or included language that could lead to hurt feelings.” He still, however, attacked liberal critics who he said were “undeterred by the offensive writings authored in the past by Al Franken” of being hypocrites, and insisted that he refused to “dwell in the rigged game of political correctness.”

Next Thursday, Hagedorn will participate in a Republican unity fundraiser with Vice President Mike Pence. In 2002, Hagedorn talked up Rep. Matt Salmon’s bill to add Ronald Reagan’s face to Mount Rushmore, writing “room exists if we flatten Lincoln’s image.” By embracing the bigotry of Trump, Pence, and Hagedorn, it seems the Republican Party has already done so.