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Published October 20 2012

Forum editorial: Stay with Peterson in the 7th District

No one knows Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District better than Collin Peterson. The 11-term congressman is seeking a 12th two-year term. He’s earned it and should be re-elected.

One of the few remaining “blue dogs” in the U.S. House of Representatives, Peterson’s clout is a result of his hard work and the respect he’s garnered from both sides of the political aisle, in particular because of his expertise on farm legislation. He is the go-to guy in the House when it comes to farm bills. A long-time member of the Agriculture Committee (as chairman and ranking member), Peterson’s grasp of production agriculture, farm legislation and agribusiness is second to none. But knowing the details of ag legislation is only one element of his success.

Peterson also knows how to negotiate the politics of farm bills, which can be as complicated a process as any in the House. A farm bill is more than farm supports and crop insurance. The interests are diverse and organized, ranging from food stamps and nutrition programs to conservation and environment. Peterson has been a leader for years in getting it done.

That being said, the congressman also is in tune with the people of the 7th on most other issues that are important to them. He knows the district tilts slightly right of center, and he does, too, and has tilted that way during most of his long political career. For example, he was one of very few of the president’s party who voted against Obamacare, to the irritation of those on his party’s left. However, he is pragmatic enough to understand the entire health care law won’t be repealed but rather needs to be fixed.

In a rerun of 2010, Peterson’s opponent is businessman Lee Byberg. Byberg’s campaign is essentially a retread, rife with the boilerplate of tea party rhetoric. He got little traction two years ago during what was billed as a Republican wave election, and will get less traction this year.

Finally, Peterson’s no-nonsense style and the real substance of his work are refreshing in a political world of double-speak from the partisan playbook. He’s clear, direct and confident. Like it or not, you know where he stands.

There is more to do, specifically on a farm bill, deficit reduction, health care and tax reform. Peterson’s history confirms he will work to get it done. Voters in the 7th should re-elect him.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.