Updated: 8:10 p.m.
Republican activists in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District have endorsed former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach to take on longtime U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson in November.
Fischbach, a longtime state senator who briefly served as lieutenant governor in 2018 and 2019, was endorsed Saturday by the 7th District Republican Party convention, meeting remotely via a Zoom teleconference.
The 7th District is a large and largely rural district in western and northwestern Minnesota. Peterson, a Democrat, has represented the district since 1991.
It took Fischbach until the eighth ballot to defeat 2016 and 2018 nominee Dave Hughes. Hughes trailed on every ballot but kept Fischbach below the needed 60 percent threshold until the eighth ballot, six hours after the convention kicked off Saturday morning.
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Hughes congratulated Fischbach after her win, but didn’t endorse her. It’s unclear whether Hughes or another candidate will run against Fischbach in the August primary election.
The two candidates made very different pitches to the Republican delegates. Hughes repeatedly called himself a “the conservative outsider” and said both Fischbach and Peterson were “career politicians.” Fischbach emphasized her ability to raise money for her campaign — something Hughes did little of in his past campaigns — and repeatedly highlighted her endorsement by President Donald Trump.
“President Trump knows that I can beat Collin Peterson this fall, and I ask you to join President Trump in endorsing me,” Fischbach said.
Hughes argued he was actually the stronger candidate for the political climate, saying of voters, “I don't think they'll want to exchange a 30-year career politician in Collin for a 22-year career politician from St. Paul.”
The digital convention completed its endorsement only after enduring repeated technical issues, as delegates struggled to conduct a convention via video chat. Candidates and delegates repeatedly tried to speak while their audio was muted, or alternately were caught on hot microphones while they should have been muted. Both the Minnesota Republican Party and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party have moved their party conventions online because of social distancing rules aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
2nd District endorsement
In Minnesota's 2nd District, Republican delegates on Saturday endorsed Tyler Kistner of Prior Lake to take on incumbent first-term Democratic Rep. Angie Craig in November.
The district includes the southern Twin Cities metro and extends southeast toward Red Wing and Wabasha.
Kistner won the endorsement at the online convention with 62 percent of the vote on the first ballot; other Republican candidates included Regina Barr, Erika Cashin, Rick Olson and Kerry Zeiler.
Kistner is a Marine Corps veteran; he grew up in the Twin Cities and graduated from the University of Minnesota before serving in the Marines for nine years.
"Our country is facing an unprecedented enemy in the form of this pandemic and a record number families and small businesses are hurting," Kistner said in a news release. "I will fight for the people of Minnesota and work with President Trump to get our country and our economy back on track. I will stand up to the deceptive practices of China. I will be a steadfast leader in the fight to rein in our debt and deficit and get our fiscal house in order."
Minnesota's 2nd has become a hotly contested district in recent years, with Craig defeating incumbent Republican Jason Lewis in 2018. Lewis had narrowly defeated Craig in 2016.