The Mankato Free Press
---- — MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) — Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson said Monday he'll seek a 13th term representing a western Minnesota congressional district.
Peterson revealed his plans in an interview with KFGO-AM ahead of a news conference in Moorhead.
"I'm ready to go. I'm fired up again," Peterson said. He said he become "pretty frustrated" by the long partisan gridlock that held up passage of the new five-year farm bill, which Peterson was instrumental in shaping.
"What I've heard for the last two months from everybody is — as many Republicans as Democrats — you've got to run again because there's still a lot of work to do. Even though the farm bill's done, you've got to implement it."
Peterson was first elected to Congress in 1990 but had held off saying if he'd run again in a district where the GOP sees opportunity this fall. A veteran state legislator who's likely to win that party's nomination, Sen. Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake, is promising a stiff challenge.
Republicans had been salivating at the thought of a Peterson retirement, which would have given them a huge advantage as they try to flip a seat. They could still benefit from national attention and outside money.
Peterson said all the recent speculation about whether he'd run again was "ginned up by the Republicans." He said he's always waited until around now in the two-year congressional election cycle to decide whether to run again.
Peterson heads into the campaign with a significant cash advantage. He had $357,687 on hand as of Dec. 31, compared with Westrom's $83,678, according to Federal Election Commission data.
Peterson was first elected to Congress in 1990, but came onto the political scene with a 1976 state Senate win. He narrowly failed in his two early bids for the northwestern Minnesota congressional seat in 1986 and 1988, getting over the hump two years later.
The heavily agricultural 7th Congressional District stretches from the Canadian border to southern Minnesota. Peterson, a licensed pilot, often makes the rounds at the controls of a single-engine plane. He's also skilled with a guitar, playing with a congressional rock and country band called The Second Amendments.
In Washington, Peterson is among a diminishing group of "Blue Dog" Democrats, who are moderate to conservative members on fiscal matters. That has served him well back home, where he regularly rings up double-digit victories in a district that tends to back Republicans for president. In 2012, Peterson managed 60 percent of the vote at the same time that Republican presidential nominee took 54 percent in the district.