U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said today he’s running for office again.
There was widespread speculation that Peterson, a Democrat who has served more than 20 years in Congress, would call it quits this year.
The 7th District Peterson represents is Republican-leaning, and national Republicans have been targeting his seat. But Peterson is also one of the most conservative members of his party, voting with Democrats 68 percent of the time.
Peterson said he took some time after a difficult battle over the farm bill to consider his options and talk to people in the district.
“The message I’ve gotten from as many Republicans as Democrats,” Peterson said, “was ‘you need to run again; we need you there. You’re the person in agriculture that people listen to, not only in the 7th District, but around the country.’”
Peterson said he wants another two years in Congress to make sure the farm bill is properly implemented. He also wants to work on funding water projects and conservation programs.
DFL party chair Ken Martin said that that Peterson, who is the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, is a “true champion for farmers and middle-class families as he demonstrated in his leadership of the recent farm bill.”
The National Republican Campaign Committee, which raises and spends money to put Republicans in Congress, said that “Minnesota wants a new voice that will put their interests ahead of Barack Obama’s reckless agenda.”
“Collin Peterson may not be retiring on his own terms, but we have every intention of forcing him into retirement in November,” said NRCC spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton.
Republican state Sen. Torrey Westrom is running against Peterson this year.
“Washington is failing us and threatening the rural values that me and my neighbors across Minnesota’s Congressional District 7 hold dear,” Westrom said. “I decided to run for Congress because I believe it is time for a new direction, fresh leadership, and a return to more of the conservative ideals that have made America great. Now that my opponent has decided to seek re-election, after decades in Washington, I eagerly look forward to the upcoming, spirited debate about the future direction of this country.”
MPR News reporter Dan Gunderson contributed to this report.