U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson announced today that he will run for a 13th term in the U.S. House.
Peterson, who represents Minnesota's 7th District, which runs along the western side of the state from the Canadian border nearly to Iowa, said he has unfinished business in Washington. He said he wants two more years to oversee implementation of the new farm bill.
Although he represents a conservative district that typically votes Republican in presidential elections, Peterson has won most elections by a wide margin. In recent weeks, he said, Democrats and Republicans urged him to run again.
However, the National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting Peterson's seat and started campaigning against him months ago, something that clearly irritates him.
"Obviously I don't like it when they've got ads running on television that are not true. So maybe it did influence me somewhat," Peterson said. "But you know, the decision that I make is based on what I can bring to the table in the next two years for the district."
Peterson, 69, first won election to Congress in 1990. Besides working on farm issues, he wants to seek funding for water projects like the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion, and finish an effort he started to better coordinate and expand agricultural conservation programs.
His likely Republican challenger in the fall is state Sen. Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake.
Westrom said a key campaign issue will be Rep. Peterson's support of President Barack Obama on issues like healthcare. Peterson voted against the Affordable Care Act, but he voted against numerous Republican attempts to repeal the law.
"If you're going to change the direction of the country and the Barack Obama policies that are failing the families in the country right now, we need to change the players at the table," Westrom said.
Although he considers Peterson a formidable candidate, Westrom said he's pleased by the response from voters in early campaigning.
"Just traveled the western and northern half of the state this weekend and great response with people and donations and just volunteers anxious to see change, change in the seventh district and in the direction this country is going," he said.
Westrom has the support of the National Republican Congressional Committee which provided staff to organize his campaign.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the 7th district in 2012.
Peterson said that likely explains why national Republicans think they can win the congressional seat. But Peterson points out he's done well, even on Westrom's home turf.
"He's a nice enough fellow. I've met him over the years," Peterson said. "But if you look at the last election in his Senate district, I ran ahead of him in every county. So we'll see."
Peterson said he expects to win another term by running his usual low-key campaign, appearing in small town parades, visiting county fairs and talking to voters.
The congressman, who regularly flies his single-engine plane around the district to campaign and attend meetings, is enthusiastic about his chances for re-election.
"Just got my flight physical re-upped and my plane working good, so I'm ready to go," he said.