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.