NORTH MANKATO — U.S. Army veteran and former middle school teacher Dan Feehan announced Tuesday that he will again face off against U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn in the 2020 election.
Feehan said his southern Minnesota upbringing taught him that "we all rely on each other here, in spite of any differences. We have to take care of each other."
That value, he said, motivated him to join the U.S. Army — where he served two tours of duty in Iraq — to teach middle school math and to serve as acting Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon.
"Service is at the core of what politics should be," Feehan said.
"People come first; people do not come first with Rep. Hagedorn," he added. "Special interests do. His political party does. Being a rubber stamp comes first."
Since his 2018 campaign, Feehan has been enjoying lots of quality family time and preparing for the 2020 race.
"Since November, I've really been focused on the thing I came away feeling most worried about, and that's the state of what is a rural and agriculture-centered economy here," he said.
Feehan has been collaborating with the Minnesota Farmers Union about ways to support farmers and farming communities. During his work at the Pentagon, Feehan was responsible for suicide prevention policy. Although he wrote policy specifically regarding military veterans, he believes his experience translates well into helping farmers manage stress.
"Soldiers and farmers are both really hardworking people who take on an incredible burden," said Feehan, who wants to help farmers take an active role in molding policy that will benefit them.
Feehan criticized Hagedorn for supporting the trade war and prioritizing the needs of special interest groups, culminating in "a lack of leadership on (Hagedorn's) part."
"Farming is a trade full of risks, and I believe that for (farmers) to be resilient with that, we have to be able to empower them," he said. He also pointed out that recent actions by the federal government have constrained foreign markets that American farmers spent generations building — a fact Feehan called "a travesty."
Feehan added that he will focus on increasing access to quality health care while lowering costs. He noted that fewer people are insured now than a year ago, and those who are insured have to travel too far for care that is inadequate.
"Every aspect of health care is something I'm going to be fighting for here," he said. He called for policy that ensures access to affordable health care for everyone in the U.S.
"All of these things are transpiring while Rep. Hagedorn is actually actively doing the opposite," Feehan said.
Feehan promised that throughout his campaign, he will not accept donations from corporate political action committees.
"Corporate influence in politics has a negative impact. Big oil companies donate to Jim Hagedorn, and Jim Hagedorn stands idly by, and an ethanol plant in Winnebago closes as a consequence," Feehan explained. "That's a direct impact of a guy who is not representing everyone in this district."
Feehan promised that "this is going to be an inclusive campaign, because I think what is broken in our politics today is the idea that politicians are divisive, and rather than actually building a vision of unity and of how things could work, we divide each other.
"This campaign will bring folks together with the idea that an election is a chance to imagine a new future — and that future for us is one in which southern Minnesota embodies that same spirit that we are all here to watch out for each other, take care of each other and to build a strong future together," Feehan said.