With an insider’s eye, Hot Dish tracks the tastiest bits of Minnesota’s political scene and keep you up-to-date on those elected to serve you.

Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Corey Mitchell, Allison Sherry and Jim Spencer.

Posts about 7th District

The NRA's mixed bedfellows: Stewart Mills, Collin Peterson

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: October 9, 2014 - 10:43 AM

WASHINGTON -- The National Rifle Association threw support behind two Minnesotans on Wednesday hoping to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives: an incumbent Democrat and a Republican challenger.

Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, who was earlier named best marksman in the U.S. Congress, garnered the endorsement of the NRA Wednesday. Peterson is running to keep his Seventh Congressional District seat against GOP challenger Torrey Westrom.

"Throughout his career, Collin Peterson has consistently opposed all attempts to ban lawfully owned firearms and magazines and has stood strong against the Obama-Bloomberg agenda, said Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA's Political Victory Fund.

This is an unusual move for the NRA, which almost always endorses Republicans, though the organization seems to like Peterson since this is the fourth time they've backed him. The only other known Democrat endorsed this week by the group is a Georgia congressman.

The organization also endorsed Republican Stewart Mills, who is running to unseat Democrat Rep. Rick Nolan in the Eighth Congressional District.

"Over five million active NRA members, many of them in our part of Minnesota, know that the Second Amendment is about so much more than just hunting -- and they know we need a representative who will stand up for those rights," Mills' camp said in a statement. 

Peterson, Westrom agree to televised debates

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: October 1, 2014 - 10:45 AM

Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson and his Republican challenger, Torrey Westrom, will participate in two televised debates this month.

Pioneer Public Television in Appleton will sponsor the first debate, which will air at 8 pm. Thursday, Oct. 23.

The second debate, hosted by Prairie Public TV, will air in the Fargo-Moorhead area at 8 pm. Friday, Oct. 24.

Westrom has also agreed to a debate on KSTP-TV's “At Issue” on October 17. Peterson has yet to commit, but his spokeswoman said the campaign is “working on other [debate] possibilities.”

Peterson is seeking a 13th term in Congress and Westrom is aggressively pursuing an upset in the Republican-leaning Seventh District.

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the district by almost a 10-point margin in 2012, but Peterson has coasted to re-election for much of his tenure in Congress.

Incumbents with large leads in the polls don’t often agree to debates with their lesser-known opponents, but recently released polls paint contrasting pictures of how competitive the race is.

A poll commissioned by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in early September shows Peterson with a 24 point lead over Westrom. Poll numbers released last week by the National Republican Congressional Committee last week found Westrom down just five points.

Minnesota delegation asks for meeting with VA secretary

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: September 30, 2014 - 10:12 AM

WASHINGTON -- Minnesota's ten members of Congress on Tuesday collectively asked for a meeting with VA Secretary Robert McDonald to talk about recent reports of falsified records at Minneapolis's VA hospital.

The request comes after VA records showed a neurology exam for 25-year-old Jordan Buisman was rescheduled four days after his death. The former corporal had been told he'd have to wait almost 70 days to see a specialist at the Minneapolis VA neurology clinic for his epilepsy, which was the reason he left the Marine Corps. He died 24 days before his appointment.

Four days later, someone wrote in his VA records that Buisman had canceled his neurology appointment. The story was first reported by KARE TV.

The VA Inspector General's office is currently investigating allegations of falsified records and manipulation with scheduling data. The delegation, Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and Reps. Tim Walz, John Kline, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Erik Paulsen, Collin Peterson, Rick Nolan and Michele Bachmann, requested a meeting with Secretary McDonald once the findings are released by the IG.

"We are deeply troubled by serious allegations of falsified records and manipulation of scheduling data at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs VA Health Care System," the delegation wrote.

VA Secretary McDonald, who was just sworn in a couple months ago, said over the weekend in a speech in Cincinnati that, "we know we have to work harder to earn that trust back one veteran at a time."


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/health-fitness/article2271423.html#storylink=cpy

Collin Peterson pushes back against attack ad

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: September 25, 2014 - 3:28 PM

Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson is pushing back against a Republican ad that blasts him for his office’s car leases and the mileage reimbursements he receives for traveling around his district in his personal airplane.

The ad is part of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s $300,000-plus campaign to highlight the costs Peterson has accumulated while traveling across his 38-county district.

“Since 1991, I’ve been out there doing my job, meeting with constituents, and covering more events and meetings than I could if I was using a car,” Peterson said in a statement. “Minnesota's Seventh District stretches from the Canadian border almost to the Iowa line. These Washington outsiders have no idea how large and diverse this district is, how much ground it covers, or how to get around within it. Their ignorance is frankly remarkable."

With the campaign arms of the national Democratic and Republican parties pumping millions of dollars in attack ads into Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District race, both Peterson and his Republican opponent, Torrey Westrom, will be fighting back against a bevy of negative advertising . The NRCC has made $2.8 million in requests for ad time to go after Peterson while Democrats have booked $1.5 million for anti-Westrom ads.

The barrage of attack ads illustrates how high the stakes are in the race, where Peterson is seeking a 13th term and Westrom is aggressively pursuing an upset in the Republican-leaning district. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the district by almost a 10-point margin in 2012,  but Peterson -- the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee -- has coasted to re-election for much of his tenure in Congress.

Peterson should expect criticism of his travel costs to continue, GOP aides said.

“The last two [ads] have obviously highlighted Collin Peterson’s use of taxpayer-funded perks and it’s definitely a major theme of this campaign,” said NRCC spokesman Tyler Houlton.

After the NRCC aired its first Peterson ad, Democrats struck back with an ad criticizing Westrom for taking his legislative pay during Minnesota’s 2011 government shutdown. Westrom was among more than 100 state lawmakers who continued collecting his check.

“This is what desperate Democrats do when they know they are on the verge of losing,” Minnesota Republican Party Chair Keith Downey said in a statement this month.

Party line splits on House approval to arm Syrian rebels

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: September 18, 2014 - 12:42 PM

WASHINGTON -- It's not often that Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan join together to support the same amendment.

On Thursday, an odd blend of bedfellows voted against a $5 billion measure to arm Syrian rebels in the fight to combat the terror group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which passed 273 to 156.

Bachmann, Nolan and Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum voted against the proposal. Democratic Reps. Tim Walz, Collin Peterson and Keith Ellison joined Republican Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen in support.

Bachmann tweeted after the vote: "Many of the so-called "moderate" rebels have already joined the cause of Islamic jihad. Concerned U.S. weapons could fall into enemy hands."

Nolan uttered a similar sentiment on the House floor Tuesday. His impassioned speech earned him exposure on the CBS morning news.

"Remember, last year at this time we were ready to attack (Syrian President) al-Assad and Syria. Now we appear in a tacit alliance with Assad and his allies to defeat ISIL," he said. "Today we appear ready to send $5 billion to the FSA ... The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result."

Paulsen said, in a statement, he supported the measure with reservations.

"I remain concerned about the administration's ability to effectively and appropriately vet Syrian opposition forces to ensure we are training groups aligned with our interest in defeating ISIL," he said, noting he found it "necessary to provide the president with this limited and short-term authority."

McCollum, in a statement, called the debate "rushed."

"The CIA is already training and arming Syrian fighters in Jordan, without congressional approval. How well has that worked? We are not discussing that as a body," she said.

The Senate takes this up Thursday. Sen. Al Franken in an interview on Wednesday said he had concerns about arming Syria and was still undecided.

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