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

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under 7th District, Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota congressional, Democrats, Republicans 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."

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