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

Posts about 7th District

Peterson: Decision to run popular with constituents

Posted by: Jim Spencer Updated: March 25, 2014 - 1:16 PM

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."

Republicans target Peterson with $50K ad campaign

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: March 21, 2014 - 11:33 AM

Days after Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson made it official that he’s running for Congress again, the National Republican Congressional Committee is welcoming him to the race with an Affordable Care Act attack ad.

The spot features Willmar hardware store owner Randy Czarnetzki, who says President Obama’s health care law “threatens the future of my business.” Willmar is in the state’s Seventh Congressional District, which Peterson represents.

“It’s hard enough to succeed in small business but with all the taxes and regulations that we have to deal with on a regular basis it even makes it more difficult," Czarnetzki says. “The fact that Collin Peterson recently voted to keep Obamacare threatens the future of my business.”

Peterson has not been a wholesale opponent or supporter of the law. The conservative Democrat voted against the Affordable Care Act when it passed the House in 2010.

In the years since, he has voted against Republican legislation designed to repeal or defund the law. But he has supported GOP-backed bills that would delay the tax penalty Americans will pay under the healthcare law if they decline to sign up for coverage this year.

In a statement issued by his campaign, Peterson said: "I voted against Obamacare and would again if it was the same bill. Outside money, the NRCC, and super PACs are trying to hijack the election from the local people, and as one of my constituents said last week, 'don't worry about it, the people of the 7th district are smarter than that'."

The NRCC’s $50,000 ad buy and will run in the Fargo-Moorhead and Twin Cities media markets over the next three weeks. In a statement, group spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said that “After 23 years in Washington, Collin Peterson has lost touch with the needs of Minnesota small businesses and families.”

The campaign arm of House Republicans, the NRCC has been running anti-Peterson ads for the better part of a year.

Minnesota Democrats press Obama to sign order protecting LGBT workers from discrimination

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: March 19, 2014 - 8:15 AM

Six of the seven Democrats in Minnesota’s congressional delegation are among the House and Senate members pressuring President Obama to sign an executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans from workplace discrimination.

All told, 195 members of Congress signed the letter, including U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Rick Nolan and Tim Walz signed the letter; Democratic congressman Collin Peterson did not.

Obama has the ability to ban employment discrimination by government contractors.

“Issuing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT workers in federal contracts would build on the significant progress for LGBT rights made during your time as President and would further your legacy as a champion for LGBT equality. We urge you to act now to prevent irrational, taxpayer-funded workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans,” the letter reads.

Congressional legislation would apply to all employers. The proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has passed the Democratic-controlled Senate, but the legislation has stalled in the Republican-led House.

No Republicans signed on to the letter asking Obama to issue an executive order.

White House officials would prefer to see Congress pass ENDA, since executive action wouldn't protect all LGBT workers.

Ellison, a member of the U.S. House LGBT Equality Caucus, will moderate a panel discussion on transgender concerns, issues of inequality and LGBT youth experiences at 5 p.m. central standard time today at the Fridley Community Center.

Congressional letter to President Obama requesting an executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual an...

Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson will run again

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: March 17, 2014 - 1:16 PM

Moorhead_ Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson will vie again for the western Minnesota seat he has held for decades, he will announce Monday morning.

"I still have a lot of work to do," Peterson said, according an advance copy of a new release. He mentioned both implementation of the just passed Farm Bill and finding permanent flood protection for the Red River Valley things that are left undone.

The 69-year-old, among Congress' most powerful members on agriculture issues, has won his recent elections by double digits even as many of his districts' voters opted for Republicans for other offices.

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, winning his 12th term.

Without Peterson on the ballot, many Democrats have acknowledged, they would have had trouble keeping the seat this year. With him on the ballot, many Republicans say their quest to capture it becomes far more difficult. Republican state Sen. Torrey Westrom, of Elbow Lake, has signed up for the challenge. He announced his bid to oust Peterson late last year.

Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said people of the Seventh District, "as well as rural residents across the nation, received great news today when Congressman Collin Peterson announced he is seeking reelection in November."

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which has hammered Peterson for months, made clear Monday morning they will make Peterson fight.

"Collin Peterson may not be retiring on his own terms, but we have every intention of forcing him into retirement in November," Tyler Q. Houlton, NRCC spokesman said.

In recent years, Peterson, known for playing rock guitar and not holding back with his opinions, has publicly grumbled about his frustrations with Congress.

The former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee when Democrats were in charge, now the ranking Democrat on the committee, spent years negotiating through the details of a Farm Bill that only materialized last month.

"It’s been a challenging and sometimes frustrating few years. I’ve described the process as lunacy, Never-Never Land, and have lamented being caught in farm bill hell. But I refused to give up," he wrote once the job was done. "Even with all the partisanship in Washington, the farm bill proves that compromise is possible."

But moderates like Peterson have become less common in partisan Washington. A member of the once mighty "Blue Dog" coalition of conservative Democrats, Peterson has seen his moderates compatriots diminish in strength and number.

But Peterson, a former CPA who spent a decade in the state Legislature before trying for congress repeatedly and finally succeeding in 1990, will say on Monday that he is not ready to give up on Congress.

“While it can be frustrating to watch the dysfunction and partisan gridlock in Congress, I think there is still a place for moderate members like myself to try to build consensus and cooperation,” Peterson said in a release. “I will continue to be a voice of common sense in Washington, DC for all the people of Minnesota’s Seventh District.”

A supporter asked Peterson if this would be his last run. His response? All he can do is "take it two years at a time."

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson to announce re-election plans Monday

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: March 16, 2014 - 6:12 PM

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.
 

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