Endorsement: Re-elect Peterson in the 7th District
The only question about the election in Minnesota's Congressional District 7 is how large Rep. Collin Peterson's margin of victory will be. We don't say that flippantly or to insult the challenger, but only to emphasize that the nine-term Democrat's record of service to the people of the district makes him a solid bet for easy re-election.
Republican challenger Glen Menze of Starbuck is a decent fellow with good intentions, but his campaign and platform are little more that party boilerplate retreads that have no traction in the 7th, and haven't had for years.
The sprawling 7th District extends along the state's western border from Lake of the Woods County on the north to Nicollet County to the far south. It's mostly rural and includes much of Minnesota's storied lakes country.
Peterson, of Detroit Lakes, has enjoyed political success because he understands the demographics and economy of the district and spends a lot of time at home taking district's pulse.
He is a self-described "conservative Democrat," a moniker that drives the lefties in his party to distraction. But his perennial appeal crosses party lines. He doesn't win 70 percent of the vote (in 2006) without significant support from Republicans.
Recognized by his colleagues as one of the Congress' experts in farm and rural policy, Peterson took over as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in 2006.
He was a major player in securing passage and a veto override of the 2008 Farm Bill, a document that has universal support among farmers in the Upper Midwest. He worked tirelessly, often against formidable opposition from the Bush administration, to reach compromises in order to mover the bill along. No farm bill is perfect, but the 2008 version is as good as it gets for the 7th and for Minnesota.
His re-election will ensure that farmers and rural communities continue to have a strong and effective advocate on the House ag committee.
Peterson's personal affability has won him friends and admirers throughout the district. Find some sort of event - the Cobber Corn Feed in Moorhead, the Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes - and count on shaking hands with Peterson after he's had a lot of fun with his guitar and fellow musicians. He's home as often as the demands of work in Washington allow, and that keeps him connected with the people he serves.
No challenger in recent years has made a case that Peterson should be ousted. Menze hasn't either.
Peterson should be re-elected ... by a landslide.
(Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum Communications management and ownership)