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Minnesota voter guide: Where the 7th District candidates stand on the issues

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Collin Peterson and Dave Hughes
Collin Peterson, left, is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 7th Congressional District running for re-election against Dave Hughes, right, the Republican candidate in the district.
Via WikiCommons

Democrat Rep. Collin Peterson, who has represented Minnesota's 7th Congressional District since 1991, is facing off with Republican candidate Dave Hughes for the seat. It will be their second time going head to head after Hughes lost to Peterson in 2016 by 5 percentage points.

MPR News has researched the candidates' positions on several major issues based on their stated platforms and other public remarks:

On President Trump

Peterson: During the 2016 election, Peterson said while he was unhappy with both major party candidates, he would not support Trump. He has taken issue with the president's decision to end the DACA programhis immigration ban and the attempt to pass new health care legislation

Hughes: He supports the president, though he has said he disagrees with Trump's approach to trade. The president tweeted his endorsement for Hughes in September, which the candidate said he was grateful for. He says Republicans need to support the president "to get his agenda done as quickly as possible and as completely as possible."

On gun control:

Peterson: Increased background checks and checks at gun shows won't stop mass shootings, Peterson says. He would consider raising the minimum age for purchasing assault weapons to 21. The NRA Political Victory Fund has endorsed Peterson.

Hughes: He says there should not be barriers preventing law-abiding Americans from defending themselves.

Health care

Peterson: He supports certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, including the provisions letting people stay on their parents' plan until they are 26 and protections for those with pre-existing conditions. He voted against the ACA years ago but said the current law can be improved through bipartisan efforts.

Hughes: He supports a more competitive market for health care. He wants to "abolish the employer mandates, reduce coverage requirements to allow Americans to choose the plan which best fits their needs, and require more transparency in the healthcare market."

Education

Peterson: He doesn't think making college free is realistic, adding that the government is partly to blame for huge student loan debts: "As costs go up we just make more programs available, more loans available and no cost containment happens at the college level." Earlier this year he introduced legislation to help recruit and retain teachers at the K-12 level, focusing on rural areas.

Hughes: He wants to "greatly reduce our federal Department of Education" and supports giving parents more options when it comes to school options. Government involvement is part of the reason student loan debt is so high in the U.S., he said during a 2016 debate.

Immigration

Peterson: He supports increased vetting of those entering the U.S. He says immigration policy should not target those who were brought to the country as children and are now studying or working here.

Hughes: He supports the plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as eliminating federal funding for cities and states that act as "sanctuaries" for those in the country illegally.

Abortion

Peterson: He differs on many in the DFL party on this issue, supporting legislation that prohibits federal funding for abortion services and has consistently voted against abortion rights.

Hughes: He is against abortion rights and opposes using taxpayer money on abortion services.

Jobs and the economy

Peterson: He supports making better trade deals with other countries when it comes to exporting crops and other agriculture products. He also supports training for high-demand manufacturing jobs that sometimes struggle to find workers.

Hughes: The economy has moved in a positive direction under President Trump, Hughes told the Hutchinson Leader. When asked about transportation projects bringing jobs to western Minnesota, Hughes said they would not create enough new opportunities and the government should instead focus on more targeted projects.

Climate change

Peterson: In 2009, he opposed a bill addressing climate change, saying its effect on farmers and those in rural communities would have been detrimental. He supports "practical, workable solutions on climate issues that can work for citizens and businesses."

Hughes: He says the regulation of greenhouse gases should be left up to the state and the government should play no role in funding a specific type of energy.

Farm bill

Peterson: He supports crop insurance and other safety nets within the bill but points out there is no extra money to fund these programs. He says the bill needs to take care of everyone, not just farmers, and previously warned that separating out portions concerning the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would put the bill in jeopardy.

Hughes: He says while the farm bill addresses important issues, bundling those issues into one bill can lead to confusion and problems. "Overall, I think we need to go to free markets. We need to free up farmers to farm markets rather than subsidies."

Taxes and government spending

Peterson: He is critical of a provision in the new tax law that gives a tax break to farmers who sell their crops to cooperatives rather than regular companies. He called the tax bill "a missed opportunity for a bipartisan effort to focus on promoting real economic growth and policies that help middle class families."

Hughes: He supports lowering taxes and cutting federal spending. He specifically advocates for "smartly cutting" spending in executive agencies — with the exception of the Department of Defense — and social welfare benefit programs.

Marijuana

Peterson: He says he wants to see how the legalization of recreational marijuana works out for other states before considering support for it nationally. He does support the legalization of industrial hemp.

Hughes: He does not support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes.