GOP Super PAC Makes First Expenditure in Minnesota Pickup Opportunity

Congressional Leadership Fund targets DFL nominee Dan Feehan in 1st District

Congressional Leadership Fund is airing its first ad attacking Dan Feehan, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor nominee in Minnesota's 1st District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The super PAC tied to House Republican leadership is turning its attention to Minnesota’s 1st District, one of the GOP’s few pickup opportunities this cycle.

Congressional Leadership Fund is going up with its first TV ad on Wednesday, attacking Democratic-Farmer-Labor nominee Dan Feehan, an Iraq veteran and former deputy assistant Defense secretary for readiness.

The spot, obtained first by Roll Call, tries to tie Feehan to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whom Feehan has said he would oppose for speaker should he be elected to Congress.

“America’s economy is booming. Dan Feehan and Nancy Pelosi would take us backward,” the narrator says. “To them, Minnesota is fly-over country.” The ad knocks Feehan for opposing the GOP tax overhaul, which it calls simply, “the middle-class tax cut.”

CLF has been spending heavily elsewhere in Minnesota, including in the open 8th District, another top GOP pickup opportunity.

But until now, the outside group had stayed out of the 1st District, where perennial candidate Jim Hagedorn is making his fourth run for the seat, his third as the GOP nominee. Republicans see the district as ripe for the picking since President Donald Trump carried it by 15 points in 2016, when Hagedorn lost to DFL Rep. Tim Walz by less than a point despite not having any national support. 

Hagedorn handily won an August primary that divided national Republicans. Female members of Congress, for example, sided with the losing candidate, state Sen. Carla Nelson. Some GOP operatives remain concerned that Hagedorn’s previous controversial comments about women and veterans could cost Republicans the seat. But Democrats haven’t yet made those comments a big part of their messaging in this district, and Hagedorn insists it’s old news.

Trump came to the 1st District last week for a rally in Rochester, where Hagedorn appeared onstage. He’s embracing the president in this race, while Feehan is betting voters are looking for a check on Trump. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Toss-up

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