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.
Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen has netted a Democratic challenger.
Democrat Sharon Sund, who ran for the DFL endorsement in the Third Congressional District in 2012, announced her campaign on Thursday.
National Democrats had eyed Paulsen's seat for possible pick up because it is one of the few seats across the country held by a Republican where President Obama bested Republican Mitt Romney.
In 2012, Obama won 49.5 percent of the vote, to Romney's 48.65 percent in the suburban district. That year, Paulsen won re-election with 58 percent of the vote.
Sund, a DFL activist who has worked in science-related jobs for big Minnesota businesses, said in a release: "I’m running for Congress because Minnesota’s families deserve a thriving economy that rewards hard work and innovation."
When she ran in 2012, local DFL activists picked Brian Barnes to run instead and she dropped out.
Paulsen has already built up a considerable war chest to fend off any challengers. According to his most recent campaign finance report, he had $1.7 million cash on hand.
Booze and baseball; football and taxes. Sports are on the agenda for lawmakers.
A House committee today to debate allowing later bar closing times during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. This afternoon, the governor and the leaders of the House and Senate talked about possible tax breaks during the Super Bowl in 2018, which Minnesota is wooing.
"I don't know the details," House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said before the meeting. He said he has some reservations about giving the tax breaks and wants to make sure they get close examination.
Dayton spokesman Matt Swenson said after the meeting that the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen "provided a very preliminary first look at the potential economic benefits of bringing the Super Bowl to Minnesota."
"No decisions or commitments were made during the meeting. The Governor and legislative leaders will continue their discussion on this issue in the coming weeks," Swenson said.
If Minnesota wins the Super Bowl four years from now, the Legislature may see a bill much like the one the House Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy will debate later today.
The measure up for votes today would permit Hennepin County to license bars to stay open late "only during the period from 12:00 p.m. on July 15, 1.132014, through 4:00 a.m. on July 16, 2014," the period of the 2014 Baseball All-Star Game.
The bill will be considered at a 4 p.m. hearing Wednesday.
It remains to be seen how many Minneapolis bars are interested in paying $2,500 to stay open a few extra hours on a warm July night.
Craig Wait, general manager of Kieran’s Irish Pub, paid for the license to stay open during the 2008 Republican National Convention, but found that most convention-goers gravitated to private events instead of local pubs.
“It ended up being not so beneficial,” Wait said. “Bars paid a lot of money for not a lot in return.”
Photo: Minneapolis' Lowbrow bar, which is plastered with baseball cards//source: Star Tribune file photo
Staff writer Jennifer Brooks contributed to this report
One day after the only Republican candidate for Secretary of State dropped out of the race, former state senator John Howe announced on Tuesday that he would run for the seat and former state senator Ted Daley said he is "definitely" considering a bid.
On Monday, Dennis Nguyen, who had the GOP field to himself, quit the race, claiming his existing obligations had made it difficult for him to run a statewide race. Nguyen had seen his support from sitting lawmakers diminish after reports that he had visited strip clubs.
Howe, the former mayor of Red Wing, said he had thought about running when Nguyen was still in the race. Daley said he did not.
Both of the former senators were elected in 2010 and lost their seats to Democrats after the 2012 redistricting.
Howe, a former mayor of Red Wing, said that his hallmarks would be honest and common sense.
"I think most people know that I work well with everybody," Howe said. In the 2012 legislative session, he proposed what some saw as a compromise to the voter ID constitutional amendment. That alternative was not adopted by the Republican-led Legislature.
Daley, a CPA and military veteran, said he is "definitely, definitely considering" a run for the office. While he said his interest in running rose after Nguyen quit the race. He said he expects to make a decision this week.
Daley, of Eagan, was on the joint House-Senate committee that crafted the voter ID amendment. The voter ID amendment ultimately made it onto the ballot and was rejected by Minnesotans in the 2012 election.
Current Secretary Mark Ritchie, a Democrat, is not running for re-election. DFL state Reps. Steve Simon, of Hopkins, and Debra Hilstrom, of Brooklyn Center, are both running to replace him.
A Republican legislative leader who supports same-sex marriage said she will run in a primary after failing to win her party’s endorsement over the weekend.
“This is a democracy and people are able to throw their hat in the ring,” said state Rep. Jenifer Loon, of Eden Prairie. “I don’t see this as a huge issue, honestly.”
Local GOP activist Sheila Kihne emerged to challenge Loon at their local convention, with neither candidate able to get enough votes to win the endorsement.
Kihne said she is weighing a primary run after her strong showing at the convention. Loon was one of four GOP House members who voted to legalize same-sex marriage last year.
“Here locally, it was an issue of trust or integrity,” Kihne said Monday. “We do not feel like we have good leadership.”
Activists who oppose same-sex marriage had worked behind-the-scenes to defeat Loon, a deputy minority leader.
“Life, marriage, and religious freedom are values for which there is no compromise,” said John Helmberger, CEO of the Minnesota Family Council. “Jenifer Loon tried to compromise these values-hurting the families in her district who trusted her to uphold them. And her constituents have spoken.”
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said he expects Loon will prevail and win a fourth term.
“Jenifer Loon—and I don’t know anybody who would dispute this—is very well-liked by the constituents in her district,” said Daudt, R-Crown. “I’m very confident that she will make it through a primary and easily win a general election again. She does a great job representing her community and I think that support will definitely be there for her.”
Just over 40 percent of voters in Loon’s district supported a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2012, a factor that Loon said she considered when she voted to legalize same-sex marriage last year.
Kihne said she is not a single-issue Republican, and noted that Loon is among several GOP leaders who have faced a challenge from within the party, including Daudt.
“It speaks to the fact that we are looking for more principled leadership and representatives who do what they are say they are going to do,” she said.
Of the four GOP House members who supported same-sex marriage, Loon is not the only one facing challengers.
First-term Rep. David FitzSimmons, R-Albertville, lost the endorsement at his convention and is considering a primary run.
Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, is not seeking re-election.
Only Rep. Pat Garofalo of Farmington breezed through his convention without trouble.
Staff writer Abby Simons contributed to this story.
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