U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, the GOP member from southern Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District, was the lone no vote from the delegation on a measure calling for the removal of confederate statues around the U.S. Capitol.
U.S. Reps. Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber — Republicans from Minnesota’s 6th and 8th congressional districts — joined DFL Reps. Angie Craig, Betty McCollum, Ilhan Omar, Collin Peterson and Dean Phillips in voting to remove the statues.
Minnesota was famously the first state to send volunteers to the Union Civil War effort, and the State Capitol is replete with paintings and statues that honor Union veterans.
The U.S. House voted 305-113 to replace the bust of Roger Brooke Taney with one of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black U.S. Supreme Court justice. The legislation, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, would also remove all statues of those who voluntarily served the confederacy.
Taney wrote the infamous Dred Scott decision that ruled Black Americans “are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word ‘citizens’ in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States.”
Hagedorn, serving his first term, faces a reelection contest with Democratic challenger Dan Feehan, who lost to Hagedorn narrowly in 2018. The district includes Rochester, Mankato and stretches southwest toward the South Dakota-Minnesota border.
Hagedorn’s office did not immediately return a message seeking an explanation for his vote.
Relics, statues and monuments of historical figures with racist pasts have become the latest flashpoint as the country grapples with race in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police officers. In Minnesota, Native activists tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus over his role in contributing to genocide of Native people, as well as the sex trafficking of young girls.
Hagedorn, a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, has a history of comments about women, gay people and Native Americans that have been widely condemned. More recently, he said “the Democrat ‘Black Lives Matter’ Party… are at war with our country.”
In a statement, Feehan criticized Hagedorn’s vote.
“As a combat veteran who served two tours in Iraq, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Feehan said. “Jim Hagedorn wants to honor people who violated that same oath and even spilled the blood of Minnesotans.”
He added: “Time and time again, Jim Hagedorn has shown he is what’s wrong with Washington.”