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GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who had been battling cancer, dies at 59

Hagedorn was first diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer in 2019. He also tested positive for Covid-19 in January.
Rep. Jim Hagedorn
Rep. Jim Hagedorn is seen after the freshman class photo on the east front of the Capitol on Nov. 14, 2018.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

WASHINGTON Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., died Thursday night at age 59, his wife said in a Facebook post. He had been battling kidney cancer.

"While nothing can accurately prepare you for the unimaginable pain, intense sorrow, suffocating grief and seemingly never-ending emptiness that engulfs the entire body, soul and spirit when your forever love passes away; at least we can smile knowing Jim is smiling from heaven encouraging us to keep chasing our dreams, loving unconditionally and fighting for the country," Jennifer Carnahan said Friday.

She also said that her husband "loved our country and loved representing the people of southern Minnesota."

"Every moment of every day he lived his dream by serving others. There was no stronger conservative in our state than my husband; and it showed in how he voted, led and fought for our country," Carnahan added.

The congressman tested positive for Covid-19 in January. He said he had been vaccinated and was experiencing mild symptoms. His wife didn't say what caused his death.

Hagedorn had been diagnosed in Feb. 2019 with stage 4 kidney cancer. He announced last July that the cancer had returned after undergoing several tests at the Mayo Clinic.

"The new diagnosis was surprising considering that just 14 weeks ago no cancer was detected. But, as every cancer survivor knows, you fight the disease each and every day," he said at the time. "Even the best of recoveries present unexpected challenges like I am facing."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., mourned his colleague in a statement Friday

"Jim lived and breathed the spirit of determined optimism that is embedded in the American way of life all the way till the end," he said. "Even while battling cancer, Jim never stopped working to better the lives of his constituents and his fellow Americans. He always put others ahead of himself."

Hagedorn had served in Congress since Jan. 2019, representing Minnesota's 1st congressional district, which is a largely rural area that borders Wisconsin, Iowa and South Dakota. His father, Tom Hagedorn, served in Congress from 1975 to 1983.