After he put Republican-driven rumors of retirement to rest, Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson says his constituents are reacting very positively to his re-election bid.
"In all my years in politics, I never made a more popular decision," the Seventh District Congressman told the Star Tribune. "I've had people come up to me on the street and in airports to thank me for running."
Peterson pondered retirement after an exhausting, frustrating fight to push a five-year farm bill through the House, Senate and a conference committee of both chambers. But he regained his energy level as the GOP kept up a whisper campaign about his retirement and put up a fake website that appeared to be for Peterson but was actually against him.
"That was the first time they've ever done that," said Peterson, who joined the House in 1991 and is the dean of Minnesota's congressional delegation.
In the end, Peterson said running for reelection was not a response to Republican hijinks.
"I made the decision based on what I thought I could do for the district and the country."
As he spoke, Peterson said he was sitting in his office figuring out ways to deal with implementation issues in the farm bill.
He was circumspect when asked if he thought his opponents' tactics backfired and drove an increase in his popularity.
"They're going to do whatever they're going to do," Peterson said of Republicans. "We'll see what happens."