U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, one of the nation’s few Democrats representing a Republican leaning district, will announce Monday whether he plans to run for a 13th term.
The signs point toward a bid to keep the office he has won, against the odds, since 1990. He has told some Minnesota Democrats he plans launch a re-election campaign Monday. Last week, a source close to Peterson also told the Star Tribune he expected Peterson would run.
If those signals are correct, the 10 a.m. appearance at Moorhead Center Mall is likely to disappoint national Republicans who had hoped a Peterson retirement would clear the way for an easy midterm election pick up in the western Seventh District.
Without Peterson on the ballot, many Democrats have acknowledged, they would struggle to keep the seat this year. With him on the ballot, many Republicans say their quest to capture it becomes far more difficult.
Peterson, is an increasingly rare breed in Washington, one of a handful of members of the so-called “Blue Dog” coalition, made up of conservative Democrats who oft buck their party, left in office. Many others have been defeated, left congress or announced plans to retire.
In 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won 54 percent of the vote in Peterson’s district, which hugs Minnesota’s borders with North and South Dakota. About two thirds of the state legislators from the district are Republicans.
And yet, Peterson swept to victory with 60 percent of the vote in 2012.
Peterson himself has given cryptic answers for months about whether he plans to vie for another term.
“I’m telling people that I’m running until I’m not,” Peterson told the Star Tribune Wednesday.
Republicans have hammered the 69-year-old since he won his last term. They have run radio ads against him, and last month launched a bogus ‘Collin Peterson for Congress’ site sponsored by the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Peterson said in February that the GOP efforts were likely to backfire: “If they had left me alone, I might’ve retired by now.”
Republican state Sen. Torrey Westrom, of Elbow Lake, is running for the seat.
A Republican-sponsored poll last month found that Peterson has a high approval rating in the district and led Westrom, until those participating in the poll were told good things about Westrom’s biography. Then Westrom took the lead. The poll also found that those who believed it was time for a new person to represent the district outnumbered those who said Peterson deserved re-election. A significant number said they were unsure.
The Republican-led House of Representatives voted Wednesday to delay the tax penalty Americans will pay under President Obama’s healthcare law if they decline to sign up for coverage this year.
The bill passed with support from 27 Democrats, including Minnesota congressmen Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson, backing the legislation.
The individual mandate requires most Americans to be enrolled in health coverage by March 31 or pay a tax penalty. The House legislation would delay the fine for one year.
The bill is expected to stall in the Democratic-controlled Senate and would face a White House veto even if it succeeded.
Peterson, a conservative Democrat, has voted for similar measures before.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a political action committee chaired by former Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, pounced on Nolan’s vote, calling it an “election year conversion.”
“He thinks he can pull a fast one on Minnesotans, right? With this vote, he’ll show them that he’s now protecting individuals from Obamacare, right?” an email from the political action committee read. “Except Minnesotans already know that Rick Nolan is an entrenched supporter of the health care law.”
Supporters of the GOP bill argue that individual consumers should be granted a delay because the Obama administration has postponed the implementation of several Affordable Care Act provisions that apply to businesses.
“No American should have to pay a penalty simply because the roll out of the Affordable Care Act has been so confusing. Moreover, if you’re going to give an exemption to businesses, you should also give an exemption to individuals. It’s only fair,” Nolan said in a statement. “We need to take the time to fix the enrollment glitches and get this right – and in the meantime allow the American people the common sense flexibility this one year delay provides.”
A question about the Affordable Care Act led to uncomfortable silence for three Minnesota Democrats -- U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz – during a town hall forum on farm issues this week in Mankato.
“I thought the Affordable Health Care Act was to save $2500 per family. What happened?” a resident asked the trio about President Obama’s pledge that the health care law would save families money.
After an awkward moment where the lawmakers shrugged and looked to each other for a response, Peterson grabbed the microphone.
“I voted ‘no,’ so I’ll let these guys handle that,” he replied, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Klobuchar and Walz acknowledged problems while defending the law, according to a report from KEYC News Channel 12 of Mankato.
“This health care discussion has got to be broader, it’s got to point out where there’s weaknesses and failures, it’s got to make sure that we’re not leaving people behind or distorting the system,” Walz said. “But don’t pretend that there was some type of safe harbor before this where everything was just peachy keen.”
KEYC issued a clarification Friday after Fox News aired a snippet of the video, claiming the lawmakers were laughing at a man’s frustration with the health care law. State and national Republicans also circulated part of the clip.
A statement from KEYC news director Dan Ruiter indicated that it was Peterson's quip, not the question about the health care law, that sparked the uproarious laughter.
“The story accused all three panel members of laughing at someone else's suffering. It also accused all three panel members of ducking the question. Anyone in attendance that day, or watching the story in its entirety that evening, knows that nothing could be further from the truth,” Ruiter wrote.
For Democrats running for Congress in dozens of districts, the Affordable Care Act could be one of the largest obstacles to their re-election bids in November.
Republicans seeking to knock off Peterson and Walz have hammered them on the issue. Peterson voted against the bill in 2010 but has since opposed Republican attempts to dismantle the law.
A Republican campaign group that set up fake 2014 election websites for Democrats, including Minnesota’s Collin Peterson, has tweaked the sites to make clear that donations sent through them will benefit the GOP.
The National Republican Congressional Committee recently made the changes after Washington, D.C.-based watchdog groups raised concerns about the sites possibly violating Federal Election Commission rules.
The sites -- including http://www.collinpeterson2014.com – invite people to sign up and donate money. The donation button on the anti-Peterson site now re-directs to a page that identifies the NRCC as the recipient.
"We recently updated our contribution pages, as we frequently do, to highlight our efforts to defeat House Democrats in 2014 and prevent Nancy Pelosi from ever being Speaker of the House again,” NRCC spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said in a statement.
Peterson, who represents western Minnesota's Seventh District, dismissed the site targeting him as “silly.”
“I guess it’s just part of their harassment campaign,” he said.
Peterson has not yet announced if he will seek a 13th term in Congress. The NRCC is backing the candidacy of Republican state Sen. Torrey Westrom.
Newly available campaign finance reports highlight the fundraising disparity in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race.
According to documents on the Federal Election Commission's website on Monday, Republican candidate Julianne Ortman raised $234,000 so far for her bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken and Republican candidate Jim Abeler raised $87,000.
Franken has raised more than $12.4 million for his re-election campaign and had nearly $5 million cash on hand. Republican candidate Mike McFadden raised $2.2 million and had $1.7 million left in the bank at the start of the year. Republican candidate Chris Dahlberg raised far less.
Franken, McFadden and Dahlberg released the summary information from their reports by January 31, back when reports were due to be filed federally.
At that time, neither Ortman or Abeler released details of their fundraising reports. Because Senate candidates do not file their reports electronically, it takes a while for them to be uploaded to the FEC website. Ortman said last week that she had "nearly a quarter of a million dollars in 2013."
House candidates file their reports electronically so their fundraising information is available online when the reports are filed.
See all the fundraising information released by Minnesota's federal candidates for office below.
(scroll to see the numbers)
|Vikings (7)||Health care (1)|
|1st District (127)||2nd District (122)|
|3rd District (98)||4th District (72)|
|5th District (144)||6th District (516)|
|Funding (650)||Health care (211)|
|Minnesota U.S. senators (495)||Minnesota campaigns (1340)|
|Minnesota congressional (721)||Minnesota governor (1607)|
|Minnesota legislature (1841)||Minnesota state senators (776)|
|National campaigns (453)||President Obama (357)|
|State budgets (783)||Celebrities (1)|
|Anoka (1)||Fridley (1)|
|2012 Presidential election (320)||7th District (78)|
|8th District (186)||NHL news (1)|
|Gov. Tim Pawlenty (450)||Political ads (82)|
|Recount (95)||Gov. Mark Dayton (1124)|
|Democrats (924)||Republicans (1079)|
|Morning Hot Dish newsletter (49)||Sept11 (1)|
|Public safety (2)||Marriage Amendment News (1)|
|Voter ID News (2)||Budget news (4)|