Dan Feehan

District 1 DFL Congressional Candidate, Dan Feehan, talks with event goers at Thursdays on First in Rochester Thursday.

Dan Feehan, the DFL nominee for Congress, called the GOP-controlled Congress dysfunctional and moribund and said his candidacy is about restoring its role as problem-solver in people’s lives, in areas such as health care and trade.

“Congress is meant to be an independent voice,” Feehan said. “They’re meant to be a check and balance. We’ve seen very little oversight.”

Feehan made his remarks at the Peace Plaza in downtown Rochester during the Thursdays on First and Third summer market, meeting and shaking hands with voters. Feehan is running against GOP nominee Jim Hagedorn.

In the first interview with the Post Bulletin since winning the DFL nomination for the 1st Congressional District, the Iraq War veteran and first-time candidate said he supports a program of universal health care, but was not wedded to any particular idea for achieving it.

“I’ve met too many families who are facing the choice of either expensive health care, no health care at all or just avoid going to the doctor,” Feehan said.

If elected to Congress, Feehan said he would vote to protect special council Robert Mueller from being fired, so the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia could be completed.

“This was an investigation that was begun in good faith and continues in good faith and must continue in good faith,” Feehan said.

Asked whether he would support articles of impeachment against President Trump if Democrats take control of Congress, Feehan said the investigations, both by Congress and the special counsel, need to be finished first before a decision could be made by him, if he is elected.

“I don’t know how I would vote. We have to see through to the conclusion of the investigations,” he said.

Feehan would not say whether he would support Nancy Pelosi for speaker if Democrats take control of the House. Some centrist Democratic candidates for Congress have vowed to oppose Pelosi for speaker, concerned Republicans will damage their candidacies by associating them with the most liberal wing of the party.

“I’m running because we need a new generation in Congress,” Feehan said. “So I’m focusing, first and foremost, on getting the trust and support of Southern Minnesotans. I have not committed to anyone (for speaker).”

Hagedorn has proposed eight debates for the 1st District race. Feehan has proposed three. Feehan said people won’t hear him talk about Hagedorn during the campaign, because “you hear very little about what he wants to achieve.”

“What you hear from him is a lot of divisiveness,” Feehan said.

During a phone interview, Hagedorn, who is making his third attempt for Congress, described Feehan as someone who “doesn’t fit the district, because he’s not from the district.” Born in St. Paul and raised in Red Wing, Feehan moved to Mankato with his family after working for the Department of Defense before announcing his candidacy.

“His positions are far to the left of Tim Walz when Walz ran for Congress in this district,” Hagedorn said, referring to the current occupant of the congressional seat who is running for governor.

“Dan is an open border’s guy. He’s a gun-control person who says we should look to Australia to handle firearms issues. He wants socialized medicine. I think Dan’s positions aren’t going to fly in Southern Minnesota,” he added.

Asked about whether he supports NFL football players taking a knee during the national anthem, Feehan said he supports “all nonviolent protests.”

“As a military veteran, I take absolutely no offense in that because that’s the whole point: Fighting for other’s freedom.”

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Matt, a graduate of Toledo University with a bachelor’s degree in English literature, got his start in journalism in the U.S. Army. For the last 16 years, he has worked at the PB and currently reports on politics and life.