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Don Davis, Published December 14 2009

Political notebook: Peterson brings home most money to his district

ST. PAUL - A respected nonpartisan blog reports Collin Peterson gets more pork than Jim Oberstar when it comes to the battle of Minnesota’s two powerful U.S. House chairmen.

The University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics blog, written by Eric Ostermeier, studied who brought home the most federal aid and discovered that in 2008 the 35 counties Peterson serves in the 7th Congressional District, most of western Minnesota, received almost $5 million, compared to $4.8 million in the 8th Congressional District’s 17 counties that Oberstar serves.

That means Peterson brings home $8.15 per person, while Oberstar sends back $7.46.

The third congressman with a mostly rural area, the 1st Congressional District’s Tim Walz, managed to send his southern Minnesota district $4.3 million in federal aid, for $6.88 per resident.

Walz, like Peterson and Oberstar, is a Democrat. But he is not a committee chairman, which brings with it lots of perks.

While Oberstar finished second overall, one of his counties got the most federal funds. Cook County, in extreme northeastern Minnesota, received $21.89 per resident. Walz’s Cottonwood County finished second with $17.05. The third through 11th spots all fell in Peterson’s district: Kittson ($16.97), Traverse ($15.58), Big Stone ($13.48), Marshall ($12.88), Norman ($12.34), Grant ($11.64), Becker ($11.38), Lake of the Woods ($11.19) and Wilkin ($10.81).

“However, it is also the case that most counties in the 7th CD have rather low populations,” Ostermeier wrote. “As such, the statistics can be a bit deceiving. For example, funds used to rebuild a bridge in, say, Marshall County, are going to have a larger per capita impact than money spent on a similar-sized bridge in a more populated county, such as Washington.”

Seeking rural doctors

An amendment to the U.S. Senate health care bill would help attract doctors to rural areas, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., says.

Klobuchar’s amendment would establish a grant for medical schools to expand or create programs to train doctors in rural medical care and would recruit students who want to practice medicine in rural areas.

“Right now we’re facing a shortage of primary-care physicians in our rural communities,” Klobuchar said. “This amendment will help recruit and train a new generation of doctors to continue to provide quality health care to rural Minnesota.”

Peterson buzz

Peterson, who represents most of western Minnesota, has been mentioned by many national political blogs and news sources recently because he is one of more than a dozen Democrats Republicans are targeting next year.

CQ Politics jumped into the mix when Peterson refused to say definitely if he will run for re-election. That follows his comment that he always waits until February to make a final decision.

“I’m not doing anything different,” he said.


Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com