Voter guide: Where the 7th District candidates stand on the issues

Two side by side portraits one of a woman and one of a man.
DFL U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (left) and Republican challenger Michelle Fischbach.
Courtesy of campaign

Updated: Oct. 6

Former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach is the Republican taking on longtime DFL U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson in November. The 7th District is a large and largely rural district in western and northwestern Minnesota.

Here’s a quick look at where they stand on top issues for Minnesotans.

View more candidates and their answers via our voter guide made in collaboration with the League of Women Voters of Minnesota.

President Donald Trump

Collin Peterson: The Democratic congressman was one of the two Democrats who voted against impeaching President Trump in December, and is the only Democrat who stayed with the party after the vote. Ahead of the vote, Peterson said the president “has not committed a crime” to be impeached for. As for the trade policies and the U.S.’ response to the pandemic, Peterson criticized Trump’s trade war with China and the federal government’s lack of timely action to warn the public about the need to take precautions.

Michelle Fischbach: The former state senator and former lieutenant governor has touted her support for President Trump. Fischbach called the House impeachment inquiry last year a “partisan impeachment sham.” She praised the president’s response to COVID-19 and avoided blaming Trump for his trade policies, while acknowledging that levies on exports have been detrimental in the agriculture-heavy district.

Police reform

Peterson: Is also opposed to defunding police. Peterson supported the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in June to ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants. He also supports a community-based public safety program. 

Fischbach: Fischbach opposes defunding, abolishing or dismantling police departments, saying “disbanding police is a very dangerous idea.” She is endorsed by the Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police. 

COVID-19 pandemic

Peterson: Peterson is against statewide COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Walz. He says restrictions should be adjusted regionally based on the rate of infections. Peterson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, supports expanding COVID-19 tests and contact tracing for front-line health care workers, first responders, and food and agricultural workers.

Fischbach: Fischbach does not support Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency power and executive orders aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus. She says it’s time to end what she describes as “one-man rule” through executive action.

Gun control

Peterson: Peterson is the lone Democrat in Congress who has the NRA’s A rating and is endorsed by the NRA. He does not support universal background checks, and has been critical of  new gun laws.  

Fischbach: Fischbach is against new gun restrictions, and is an avid supporter of the Second Amendment. She holds an A rating with the National Rifle Association.

Health care

Peterson: Peterson voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and opposes repealing the law. He favors revising it instead, unless there is a better option to replace it. In 2018, Peterson voted for bills to expand eligibility for health savings accounts and to allow the accounts to be used for over-the-counter medications

Fischbach: Fischbach says she wants to offer Americans access to high-quality, affordable health care plans by patient-centered health care reforms. Her efforts focus on increasing competition and lowering costs without sacrificing protections for those with preexisting conditions. She disapproves of the Affordable Care Act.

Education

Peterson: Peterson has highlighted the need for affordable and reliable broadband internet service that is essential for education and businesses in the area. He also touts his efforts to secure more funding for Pell Grants and other high school funding. 

Fischbach: Fischbach served as the chairwoman of the Senate Higher Education Committee during the 2017 state legislative session. Education, especially higher ed, remains as one of her priorities, and her efforts center on strengthening two-year and higher ed programs that can contribute to a strong workforce in rural Minnesota. 

Immigration

Peterson: Peterson said in March 2019 that he supports border security but does not support the southern border wall. In 2017, he voted for a bill to penalize states and local governments with sanctuary laws on immigration. In May, Peterson broke ranks with Democrats and supported a bill that would have prevented undocumented immigrants from receiving $1,200 in the federal government’s COVID-19 stimulus package.

Fischbach: Fischbach supports Trump’s desire to build the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. She is opposed to abolishing Immigrants and Customs Enforcement and opening up borders. She is also against the idea of having sanctuary cities.  

Abortion

Peterson: Peterson has long been against abortions and has cast several anti-abortion votes during his terms. In 2017, he voted for a bill to ban abortions after 20-week pregnancy and for another bill to ban using taxpayer money on abortions. 

Fischbach: Fischbach supports the right to life at all stages, opposing abortions. She also has spoken against efforts to promote taxpayer-funded abortions for undocumented immigrants. Her husband, Scott Fischbach, is an executive director at anti-abortion nonprofit Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. 

Jobs and economy

Peterson: Peterson, who was a small business owner in Detroit Lakes before his time in Congress, has been supportive of aiding small businesses and protecting the leisure industry in the district. 

Fischbach: Fischbach wants to rebuild infrastructure in rural Minnesota and to secure trade deals for farmers in the area. She also supports investing in workforce development programs.

Climate change.

Peterson: Climate change seems to be of no great concern to Peterson. In 2018, he said lawmakers have “a lot of other issues that gotta get dealt with” before climate change and that the U.S.’ agriculture industry was already doing its part to reduce the environmental footprint. 

Fischbach: Fischbach does not appear to have a public stance on climate change.

Taxes and government spending

Peterson: Peterson is against raising taxes, and suggests cutting back on military spending and making changes to Medicare as measures to overhaul the country’s budget course. Peterson voted along the party line against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017. 

Fischbach: Fischbach supports tax cuts for middle-class people and criticizes excessive taxes and regulations. She also approves of Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. 

Legalization of recreational marijuana

Peterson: Although he did not publicly discuss the issue in his latest term, he had said ahead of the 2018 election that he wanted to see how the legalization of recreational marijuana works out for other states before considering support for it nationally and that he supported the legalization of industrial hemp.

Fischbach: As a state senator in 2014 she voted against allowing medical use of marijuana in Minnesota. 

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