ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — The Republican and Democratic candidates competing for Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District both expressed a willingness to cross the aisle to get things done Tuesday in Rochester during their first debate ahead of the November election.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz said he was willing to turn his back on party leadership in favor of his constituents.

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“I don’t disagree with (the GOP) because they are Republicans, I disagree with them when I think they’re wrong,” Walz said. “I’ve been able to move more legislation, whether it was Stock Act, government reform, ethics legislation, or things in the Farm Bill, than any other member in the minority. That comes from trust and respect.”

His GOP challenger, Jim Hagedorn, emphasized what he described as his track record of standing up to his party, even when he isn’t sure it will do him any good. Hagedorn won the GOP primary in August after failing to win his party’s endorsement in June.

But the two did clash on some issues.

Hagedorn accused Walz in the scandal over long wait times for those seeking treatment at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities, pointing out that he is a member of the committee that oversees the agency.

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“What’s the record? Veterans are dying at the hand of our government,” he said.

Walz, who is favored to win a fifth term in the district, said his rival was trying to politicize the issue.

“This issue amongst all issues cannot go down the road of partisanship,” Walz said. “It cannot go down the road of trying to divide us.”

The two will meet for a second debate Oct. 15 in Mankato.

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