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DL Newspapers Endorsement - Peterson, Klobuchar needed in DC

Here are two elected officials who are not part of the problem in Washington.

Just the opposite. When the ice thaws in Congress, and Republicans and Democrats at last are willing to embrace the Simpson-Bowles compromise budget or another "Grand Bargain," here are two elected officials who are sure to be in the room, hammering out the details.

Minnesotans should be proud. And the rest of the country should know that if more in Washington behaved like Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Collin Peterson, America would be better off.

The two deserve re-election.

Klobuchar and Peterson, both Democrats, rank among the most popular politicians in Minnesota; clearly, that's because they win significant support from Republicans.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has a similarly bipartisan appeal; and one of these days, party leaders are going to wake up and realize that maybe Americans aren't so divided after all.

For as Klobuchar, Peterson and a few others show, supermajorities hunger for leaders who'll represent the best of their own party while treating the other party with respect. It's not hard. It simply requires a trace of humility, a willingness to admit that one doesn't have all the answers and might even at times be wrong.

The net result is the ability to get to "yes" -- to negotiate agreements that win broad support.

After all, if one starts with the idea that the other side has something useful to say, then one sees that there's no shame in meeting in the middle.

That's been the case with great legislation throughout modern American history; and if and when lawmakers get back to working with rather than insulting members of the other party, it'll be the case again.

As senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Peterson shows this skill year after year. That includes 2012, when Peterson's negotiating ability resulted in his committee's solidly bipartisan support for the Farm Bill.

For Republicans on the committee, that was a tough vote. They knew how embarrassing it could prove to their House leadership. They were right: It was embarrassing, especially when that leadership refused even to let the bill come to the floor for a vote. The House Speaker and others knew it would pass with "too many" (for their tastes) Republicans in support.

The GOP committee members' willingness to put their leaders on the spot testifies to their respect for Peterson and their sense of his shared respect for them.

Klobuchar, for her part, helped bring the Senate's Farm Bill to successful supermajority passage by the entire chamber. What an accomplishment -- and what a good omen for agreements to come, all of which, thanks to the Senate's filibuster rules, will need at least 60 votes.

Klobuchar also shows the other key trait that defines a centrist: a willingness to break with party members and interest groups. Notably, she did this on the project to replace a St. Croix River bridge. Environmentalists and key Democrats in the Minnesota congressional delegation opposed the project.

As a result, here's how Minnesota Public Radio described the situation in December: "Efforts to authorize a replacement for the aging Stillwater lift bridge over the St. Croix River have run smack into the immovable object that is the U.S. Congress."

Now, here's MPR a month later: "The U.S. Senate Monday night passed a bill authorizing a replacement for the aging Stillwater lift bridge over the St. Croix River." The sponsor of the bill? Sen. Amy Klobuchar; and the vote in the Senate was unanimous.

Regardless of who wins the presidency next month, neither party will have 60 Senate votes. That means Congress has two options: Calcify -- or deal.

Two of Congress' better deal-makers are up for re-election in Minnesota. Voters in the state shouldn't hesitate to send them back.

(Endorsements represent the views of Forum Communications, the parent company of Detroit Lakes Newspapers. The endorsement above was written by Tom Dennis, the Grand Forks Herald's editorial page editor)