WILLMAR - There was a tight race Tuesday in Minnesota's Seventh Congressional District between Rep. Collin Peterson and his GOP challenger Dave Hughes.

The final tally was not yet completed but it appeared Peterson, who has represented the rural, conservative-leaning district for 28 years, was poised to return to Washington for a 15th term in office.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting just before 1:30 a.m., Peterson had 52 percent of the vote and Hughes had 48 percent.

Peterson, who had trailed Hughes as early returns were reported, slowly gained ground throughout the night.

This was Hughes' second attempt to unseat the 74-year-old Peterson, a DFLer from Detroit Lakes.

A strong supporter of President Trump's policies, Hughes, 43 of Karlstad, had more money and staff this year than two years ago - where he came close to defeating Peterson- and had earned a tweet of endorsement from Trump. Hughes had predicted he'd win by double-digits if Trump campaigned for him in the 7th District.

A retired Air Force officer who works as an instructor and drone pilot with General Atomics, Hughes had campaigned primarily on issues of securing the borders, immigration reform and refugee settlement programs.

Peterson, who holds a key position on the House agriculture committee and a seat at the negotiating table for the farm bill, said his longevity in Congress and his bi-partisan nature has put him in a position to create a farm bill that benefits the 7th District.

Peterson said earlier this year that after he retires, or is defeated, it would be a long time, "if ever," that the 7th District will have someone with as much influence as he has representing regional agricultural interests in Congress.

The two-year term pays $174,000 annually.