LA CRESCENT, Minn. — In a sometimes raucous town hall meeting Wednesday, July 7, Rep. Jim Hagedorn defended his decision to object to the counting of electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania on Jan. 6, the same day supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol to disrupt the counting.
"Here's why I voted against the electors on Jan. 6: I took the stand on constitutional grounds," Hagedorn said. "States across the country made changes to our elections without the consultation and consent of the state legislature."
Hagedorn was pressed on the issue by Janette Dean, of Caledonia, Minn., who called Trump a "sore loser saying he didn't lose." She suggested that Trump damaged the country's democracy with his "big lie." And she accused Hagedorn of helping by voting "to take away Pennsylvania and Arizona."
"This is our democracy. It's not something we play around with," Dean said. "Biden won fair and square."
Hagedorn was one of 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the election results that day.
He argued that many states made changes to the election procedures that were unconstitutional because they were not done with the consent of their state legislatures. Even though the changes were made in the midst of a pandemic, there is nothing in the constitution that says, "all of sudden, you get to make arbitrary changes," he said.
Hagedorn also said that when Congress met to certify the election, there were not enough votes to overturn it. Biden was going to be certified the winner, so he used his vote to register his objection to those changes, he said.
"Everybody knew that," Hagedorn said about the number of votes. "The Republicans didn't control the House. I voted that way in order to make the point that I wrote in a statement that night. In the United States of America, we follow the Constitution."
"We didn't have the votes," he repeated. "The country wasn't going to fall apart."
The Republican congressman gave his response during his first in-person town hall meeting of the year and the first since the pandemic has begun to wane. He spoke before about 40-50 people Wednesday at the La Crescent Area Event Center in southeast Minnesota.
Hagedorn used the town hall to publicly address for the first time the recurrence of his cancer, which he announced in a news release earlier in the day.
Twenty-nine months ago, he was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer by Mayo Clinic doctors. But Hagedorn was able to recover from the disease and announce that he was cancer-free.
"This past weekend, I was at Mayo Clinic, and they found that it came back and resurfaced," he said. "That means I have to go on a different regimen of drugs. I just want to let you know that we're going to continue to do what we did last time. We're going to continue to work, continue to represent the district, and give it everything I've got."
During Wednesday's town hall, Hagedorn also fielded questions about critical race theory and offered full-throated support for police officers.
Hagedorn said he disagreed with critical race theory, because it divides people in the U.S. into two groups: oppressors and the oppressed.
"I don't understand how that helps either group," he said. "And on top of that, (critical race theory) views the United States as an inherently racist and a bad country. That is complete hogwash."