House Ag chair Peterson, a GOP target, runs for reelection

Minnesota Representative Collin Peterson, a conservative Democrat in a Republican-leaning district, announced he would seek reelection in November, saying he was worried rural America is being left behind. President Trump has endorsed a Republican challenger against Peterson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, in a contest that is regarded as a toss-up.

“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,” Peterson said in a statement on Friday. “I’m focused not just on agriculture, but on helping our rural health care facilities, lowering interest rates on student loan debt, taking care of our veterans, and making sure we have good roads and good broadband access across rural Minnesota.”

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Peterson, who voted against impeachment of Trump, played a leading role in thwarting House Republican attempts to write welfare reform into the 2018 Farm Bill through broader and stricter SNAP work requirements. An accountant by training, Peterson is the first two-time chairman of the House Agriculture Committee since the Eisenhower era. He was chairman from 2007-2011 and reclaimed the chairmanship in January 2019, when Democrats regained control of the House after eight years in the minority.

A week ago, Trump announced on social media “my complete and total endorsement” of former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, one of five candidates seeking the Republican nomination to oppose Peterson. In 2016, Trump took 62% of the vote compared with 31% for Democrat Hillary Clinton in Peterson’s district in western Minnesota. Peterson won by 4 points.

The bipartisan Committee for Stronger Rural Communities said it backed Peterson for a 16th term because of his “pragmatic, bipartisan legislative record.”

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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