A. Lea lawyer joins 1st District race

Published 4:35 pm Friday, March 11, 2022

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Longtime Albert Lea agriculture law attorney Matt Benda on Thursday announced his candidacy for Minnesota’s 1st District congressional seat, which is vacant due to the death of Republican Congressman Jim Hagedorn.


Benda, who has been active in the Freeborn County Republican Party over the years and previously ran for the House District 27A seat, has served as chairman of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, as a member of the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency, as a 4-H youth leader and as chairman of the St. Theodore Catholic School board, among other endeavors. He has also represented the Shell Rock River Watershed District as legal counsel over the years.

“Just a little over a year ago, Joe Biden and the Democrats assumed full control in Washington and what have they given us?” Benda said. “Four dollars-a-gallon gas, grocery prices through the roof, crime and destruction in our cities, big government mandates that closed our schools and imposed requirements upon our teachers to indoctrinate instead of educating our kids. We can, and must do better.”

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Benda was born and raised on his family’s farm in Alpha, and he and his family have deep connections to Minnesota’s agricultural community, the release said. During his 25 years as an attorney, he has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with farmers, families and small business owners to help them succeed.

Benda said the 1st District is the state’s agricultural breadbasket filled with hardworking people farming the land, running main street businesses and saving lives with world-class health care.

“Congressman Jim Hagedorn was a tireless advocate for these foundational pillars, and I would be honored to carry on his work in these critical areas,” he said, noting he will fight to return the country to energy independence, bring down the cost of gas, lead the charge for fiscal sanity and against wasteful spending and regulations.

He said he won’t back down from fighting for 1st District values and is ready to find constructive solutions to the challenges facing the state and nation.

Benda and his wife, Heather, a certified public accountant, have been married for 22 years and have two children. He has twice been named Attorney of the Year for his work in the community and previously served as chair of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Agricultural Law Section Council.

The filing period for the open seat is open through 5 p.m. March 15.

A special primary will be held on May 24, followed by the special election on Aug. 9 — the same day Minnesota will hold statewide primary elections — within the 1st District’s current boundaries.

Candidates for the special election will likely run again in the November election, which will decide who will hold the seat in the next Congress under Minnesota’s new political maps released last month.

As of Wednesday afternoon, six Republican candidates, three DFL candidates and one Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate had filed for the open seat.