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.: Allison Sherry and Jim Spencer.

Posts about 7th District

GOP poll: Westrom and Peterson neck and neck

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: October 16, 2014 - 3:18 PM

WASHINGTON -- A new internal GOP poll puts Seventh Congressional District Republican candidate Torrey Westrom within striking distance of veteran Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson.

The poll, released Thursday by Westrom's campaign, shows Westrom at 44 and Peterson at 43 percent approval, with 13 percent of people still undecided. This is a four-point gain for Westrom in six weeks.

Peterson was elected to Congress in 1990. Westrom is a state lawmaker.

The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 5.8 points and was based on a telephone survey of 300 "likely" voters Oct. 12 - 14.

By the numbers: U.S. House candidates' hauls

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 15, 2014 - 6:13 PM

Wednesday was the latest filing day for U.S. House candidates and the cash is rolling in.

According to Federal Election Commission filings and information from campaigns, Republican Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen lead all candidates in how much cash they have left in the bank. Although neither of their suburban districts are targeted by national outside spending, both have more than $1.5 million in their war chests.

In the targeted western Seventh Congressional District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson has raised and spent more than his Republican challenger Torrey Westrom and has nearly twice as much left in the bank.

According to FEC files, independent groups have pumped more than $4.8 million into that district, a thousand-fold more than outside groups spent in 2012. The district which has a Republican tilt but has long sent Peterson to Washington by overwhelming margins.

Outside groups have already spent $6.6 million in the highly northern Eighth District, which has swung between Democratic and Republican representation in recent years.

In that race, the candidates -- Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican challenger Stewart Mills -- have kept competitive in fundraising but Nolan has more cash on hand going into the final stretch. Mills has added to his cash haul by lending his campaign $250,000 so far.

See the other numbers available below. The chart will be updated as more numbers become available.

Rep. Collin Peterson up 9 points in KSTP poll

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: October 10, 2014 - 4:37 PM

WASHINGTON -- Despite the Republican-leanings of his Seventh Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson is showing a nine-point lead on his GOP challenger Torrey Westrom in a recent poll.

Fifty percent of 545 likely voters surveyed Oct. 3 - Oct. 6 said they supported Peterson, who is running for his 13th Congressional term. Forty-one percent supported Westrom, a state senator from Elbow Lake. Ten percent were still undecided.

The poll was conducted by Survey USA by KSTP.

Among the same set of voters, 28 percent ranked health care ranked among the most important issues in the election, followed by terrorism and then taxes.

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.