President Trump is in Rochester Thursday for a rally at Mayo Civic Center, spotlighting a high-profile race for U.S. House between Republican Jim Hagedorn and Democrat Dan Feehan.
Carleton College analyst Steven Schier notes Rochester voters have less partisan allegiance than others in southern Minnesota and said, “In the First District you’ve got a big group of moderate Republicans, well-to-do, well-educated, in Rochester — and I think he needs to be very aware of that.”
About one-fourth the population of the First Congressional District is in the Rochester metro area, making those voters an important swing factor in the November election.
Schier added that Trump comes to Rochester as the fight in Washington D.C. over Brett Kavanaugh reaches fever pitch and, “Of course the president has the capacity to help and hurt his candidates with his comments, so you have to watch those carefully.”
Hamline University Professor David Schultz said a visit from Trump could have the opposite effect Republicans want by galvanizing Democrats, “Because at that point it nationalizes the election…and no matter what anybody thinks, 2018 is really a referendum on Donald Trump.”
Schultz said polls suggest Hagedorn has a solid lead over Feehan in the First District U.S. House race, and said Trump might be visiting just to preserve his political capital by, “Going into districts where he believes maybe the person running already is doing well, so that come after election day, he can take credit for something when in fact it may not have been due to him.”
It’s expected the president will also campaign for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Karin Housley and 2nd District Congressman Jason Lewis. Both are engaged in tough battles as the election nears.
Meanwhile, D.F.L. candidates and volunteers kick off what they dub “KNOCK-tober” with door-to-door campaigning in Rochester. They say it’s the first in a series of events across Minnesota before Election Day, which is just under a month away.