ST. PAUL — U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson on Friday, March 6, announced that he would seek reelection to his seat representing Minnesota's vast 7th Congressional District in Congress.
The announcement comes more than a month after the 75-year-old Democrat had initially said he would make clear his decision and as he prepares to vie to keep the seat he's held for nearly three decades. As he enters the race, Peterson's set to face five Republican challengers and two Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidates aiming to beat him for the party's endorsement.
No other House Democrat represents a district that supported President Donald Trump in 2016 more strongly than Minnesota's 7th. And with a Trump-endorsed Republican in the running to unseat him, voters in the district will determine whether Peterson's blue-dog Democratic brand or the president's message of making America great wins the day.
The Democrat has often broken with his party in Congress, including on the House of Representatives' December vote to impeach Trump. Peterson was one of two Democrats to oppose impeachment, saying the hearings had been partisan and the process was a "mistake." But earlier this week, Peterson threw his support behind former Vice President Joe Biden hours before Minnesota voters went to the polls in the state's Democratic presidential primary, a sign that he could align with more moderate party leaders.
“This wasn’t an easy decision for me because our country is so polarized right now, but that’s also why I want to ask the voters of western Minnesota to support me again," Peterson said in a news release. "There aren’t many like me left in Congress. Rural Democrats are few and far between and I’m concerned that rural America is getting left behind."
And he has expressed a deep concern about another candidate being able to represent the district the way he has in terms of advocating for farmers in Washington. Peterson chairs the House Agriculture Committee and told Politico last year that a big part of his decision would come down to whether he felt he could draft and pass the next Farm Bill.
Minnesota Republican Party Chair Jennifer Carnahan has pinpointed District 7 as a top flip opportunity for Republicans in November. On Friday, she said in a written statement that by running for re-election, Peterson "chose to ignore the writing on the wall," which she says indicates that constituents want a Republican representing them in Washington.
"Peterson running again does not change the fact that Minnesota's 7th is going to turn red in November," she said. "On Election Day, Minnesotans will turn away from Peterson and (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi by electing a Republican Member of Congress who will put Minnesota families first."
Republican Michelle Fischbach, who is running to unseat Peterson, in a statement said she would seek to highlight Peterson's record.
“I look forward to holding Collin Peterson accountable over the next eight months for his record of enabling the socialists in his party and obstructing President Trump’s agenda by voting against the president over 75% of the time," Fischbach said.
Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin in a Friday afternoon news release said he is "thrilled" at the news of Peterson's official running.
“Now more than ever, our farmers need a fighter in their corner, and there’s no better fighter for farmers and for Greater Minnesota than Rep. Collin Peterson," Martin said. "Time and time again, Rep. Peterson has earned the trust and support of Minnesota voters by working with members of both parties to get things done for our state, and I have every confidence that he will continue to do so."