Is the Republican side of the First District congressional contest about to turn into the stuff of a Judd Apatow film, a Harlequin romance or a Southern Minnesota House of Cards?
Only time will tell.
The original headline for the Rochester Post Bulletin article at this link (Google cache) about the recently disclosed relationship between Jennifer Carnahan, the relatively new state chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, and Jim Hagedorn, the Washington DC-to-Blue Earth transplant running for Minnesota's First Congressional District seat was "GOP: No conflict of interest in Hagedorn-Carnahan relationship."
Now we're having a difficult time finding that article online. Instead there's another article by the ever-reliable Heather Carlson, Some GOPers wary of running after relationship revealed. Not all potential Republican contenders are wary, Carlson reports:
Some potential Republican congressional candidates say they are hesitant to run for the 1st District seat following news that the state party chairwoman and Republican candidate Jim Hagedorn are in a relationship.
Rep. Nels Pierson said after he learned that Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan and Hagedorn were dating, it prompted him to delay making a decision about whether to run.
"The reality is we're hearing that this is just a nothing deal and no conflicts are there — yada, yada. But the reality is, it's hard to believe that as a candidate," Pierson said . . .
The disclosure also prompted Olmsted County Republican Party Chairman Aaron Miller to reassess whether to run for the seat.
"We knew about the allegations late last week before it was confirmed today. Does this influence our decision to run or not? It does. Because of the conflict of interest that exists. I believe there is no way to separate state party activities and those activities of the chair from this race," Miller said. . . .
Nelson said she is still seriously considering running for the seat. She added that the fact Carnahan and Hagedorn are in a relationship won't have an impact on whether she runs.
"No, nothing like whom somebody is dating would keep me from making a decision about whether or not I was going to run for Congress. I would not let that deter me in any way. Full disclosure is important, and apparently there is full disclosure, and I'm sure whatever happens I would expect there to be strict controls on fairness," Nelson said.
How are area Democrats responding? A comment on the earlier version of the article by longtime Rochester DFL activist Kathleen Castrovinci pretty much recaps what we've been hearing:
I can care less who Jim Hagedorn is "in a relationship with". That is his personal business now made public.
I will question his stand on issues as it relates to the District and Country as a whole. Like his lock step support of Donald Trump, his allegiance to what the House has and will pass regarding Health Care, Immigration, Tax Cuts for the rich, and so on.
Bluestem thinks Nelson and Castrovinci are on to something.
The odd couple element
Perhaps the only remark-able aspect of the news of this relationship is the pairing of two Republicans who gained headlines from very different reactions to America's diversity. Back in 2014, the Star Tribune reported in GOP U.S. House hopeful Jim Hagedorn defends old blog posts now under fire; The candidate said his comments on gays, women and Indians were satirical:
Years-old blog posts in which Republican congressional hopeful Jim Hagedorn lambasted women, American Indians, gays and national political figures have recently resurfaced and are now dogging the candidate’s campaign.
Hagedorn, the surprise primary victor in the First Congressional District, told the Star Tribune on Friday that he stood by his extensive writings. Hagedorn is running against four-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat.
In a 2002 “masterpiece analysis,” he called two female senators from Washington “bimbos in tennis shoes.” In his posts, Hagedorn offered up his candid assessments of state and national races, peppering descriptions of elected officials with disparaging remarks. His missives, however, were not all negative.
In a 2008 “masterpiece analysis,” he thanked Sen. John McCain for picking former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate on the Republican ticket.
“On behalf of all red-blooded American men: THANK YOU SENATOR McCAIN, SARAH’S HOT!” he wrote. In his many commentaries, he also railed against gay marriage and accused Democrats in South Dakota of using deceased American Indians’ names on absentee ballots.
“Leave it to liberals to ruin John Wayne’s wisdom of the only good Indian being a dead Indian,” he wrote in 2002.
A businessman, Hagedorn defended his off-the-cuff opinions as humorous and satirical in nature, saying he criticized politicians of all stripes, not just Democrats. The posts were written between 2002 and 2008 on a now-defunct blog titled “Mr. Conservative.” The writings were first reported by politics blog Bluestem Prairie and later picked up by Mother Jones, a liberal news site.
“Over the years, I wrote political commentary … and poked fun at national politicians,” Hagedorn said. “This is old stuff that’s been out there” for years, he said.
Asked whether he owed voters an apology for his crude and strong language, he said he did not. . . .
Hagedorn later apologized, sort of, and we suspected his sense of humor is mellowing, given the leadership Carnahan exhibited in a recent internal dust-up on a Minnesota Republican social media page. In early May, David Montgomery report in Facebook post about Keith Ellison is ‘repugnant hate speech,’ new MN GOP chair says, at the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
Just two days after Jennifer Carnahan was elected chairwoman of the Minnesota Republican Party, she dealt with a Facebook post she called “repugnant hate speech.”
The post, from the 7th Congressional District Republican Party, called Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison a “head Muslim goat humper.”
Hours after being asked her thoughts about the post, Carnahan tweeted: “The hate speech from the 7th CD GOP does not reflect our party or the 7th CD. As chair, I will not tolerate this activity in our party.”
In a fuller Facebook post of her own, she said the post from the group was “repugnant” and that she asked for the immediate resignation of the person responsible for posting it. . . .
The person responsible for the post resigned from his leadership position in the Seventh District Republican Party; Bluestem laster identified the likely responsible individual in our post Concerning a recent change in the Minnesota Seventh District Republican Party Board.
Let's hope that Carnahan continues her clear leadership about civility in the Republican Party and that Hagedorn follows her lead--and that the Republican leadership on the state and congressional district make good on their promise of a fair endorsement process. The rest of the relationship simply isn't anyone's business--and we wish them the best.
Screenshot: Jim Hagedorn and Jennifer Carnahan.
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