Fillmore County Republican Chairman Doug Baker of Lanesboro is expressing frustration about the party’s plea to endorse First District congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn, who won the primary election.

In an email sent to Republicans and local media, including this newspaper, Baker took issue with a request by First District Republican Chairwoman Carol Stevenson to endorse Hagedorn because Hagedorn went back on his pledge to abide by the First District convention endorsement earlier this year.

Hagedorn had originally agreed to abide by the endorsement process after First District delegates chose Aaron Miller as their candidate in April. However, six weeks later, he re-entered the race, saying Miller wasn’t running an aggressive enough campaign.

He then won a spot on the ballot in the Aug. 12 primary election, defeating Miller to take on incumbent Tim Walz.

“Let me get this straight, we want to reward the guy who…wasted our time and money and widened the rift in the district, by wasting more time and money to give him the very thing he thought lowly enough to ignore four months ago,” said Baker in the email.

Fillmore County Republicans favored Miller in the primary with 61.2 percent of the vote. However, Hagedorn won district-wide with 54 percent of the vote in what is considered an upset since it is rare for an endorsed congressional candidate to lose a primary election in the First District.

Baker noted that Republicans endorsed Miller in April so they would have an extra three months to run against Walz. Miller continued to focus on Walz while Hagedorn “exploited that by running a non-stop attack campaign” against Miller.

“This is an issue about principals,” said Baker. “We are propping up bad behavior and rewarding it.”  

Baker also noted that it is about winning, too, as Democrats will exploit Hagdorn’s flip-flopping on the endorsement process as well as what Baker claimed were issues about his personal behavior and inappropriate comments that could drag down the ticket when the party has a shot at the U.S. Senate and governor seats.

Other Republican Party officials in the First District appear to be united behind Hagedorn as Baker’s are the only public comments on the endorsement request.

“As Republicans, we stand on principal and that is what I'm doing,” said Baker. “Jim Haggedorn deserves no endorsement until he pays back every single delegate and alternate, the money and time that were wasted.”