DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — Minnesotans are more than a year out before the next big election in 2018, but that is not stopping two Republicans from getting an early start.
In the seventh congressional district, democratic Rep. Collin Peterson has held the district since 1991. However, Peterson’s margin of victory has slowly shrunk. Peterson, who in past won races with a 20 point plus margin, won by a mere five points in 2016.
Minnesota State Rep. Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) and Peterson’s 2016 challenger Dave Hughes are looking to capitalize on lack of DFL votes and make CD7 a real contender in 2018.
Miller, who represents Prinsburg and its surrounding areas is no stranger to winning tough districts.
“I’ve beat the DFL in an ‘unwinnable’ district,” Miller told Alpha News. “Nobody gave me a shot at winning my House district in 2014, but I won by 11 points and buried the DFL again in 2016 by almost 20 points.”
Hughes, whose loss in 2016 is the closest margin for any Republican since Peterson’s win in 1990, believes those in Northeast Minnesota should put their faith in him.
“I’ve learned a ton from that experience [2016 election] to propel me to victory next time,” Hughes said. “In ‘16 I was a rookie candidate who started too late, had zero support outside the district, raised less than $20,000, and yet did much better than anyone guessed.”
Both candidates have expressed a strong desire to target farmers.
“I drive a sugar beet truck,” Miller said. “I’m a leader on behalf of Minnesota agriculture. I’m a Vice Chair of the Minnesota House Agricultural Committee…I’ve successfully fought burdensome regulations of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and others who have fought to stymie our rural Minnesota economy.”
While Miller is taking a land agriculture approach, Hughes is focused on farmers and healthcare.
“Right now Obamacare is absolutely wrecking our farmers, small business owners and other individual market consumers,” Hughes told Alpha News. “Collin Peterson has done far too little for far too long regarding our national nightmare called Obamacare. I will push very hard to totally repeal Obamacare, and implement in its place simple, understandable, comprehensive free market reforms.”
Both candidates can agree on one thing: Peterson has failed the seventh congressional district. Hughes tells Alpha News that Peterson has tunnel vision with his focus being on agriculture.
“Collin [Peterson] has failed CD7 by focusing almost exclusively on Agriculture, to the detriment of the myriad other vital issues that greatly concern the citizens of western Minnesota,” Hughes said. “They are worried about immigration, the refugee resettlement program, threats to religious liberty, Planned Parenthood, our huge annual Deficit, and enormous mounting National Debt, national security, jobs, the economy, and the devastation of Obamacare.”
Miller believes it’s time for change.
“Managing the decline isn’t good enough anymore,” Miller told Alpha News. “We look to our neighbors in other rural communities across state lines and see innovation, growth, and a bright future. CD7 deserves that and more.” Miller also said that, “‘Business as usual’ is killing rural Minnesota. We are losing jobs, we are losing people, and we are losing our greatest asset – our young folks.”
Both candidates have a long way to go till the CD7 endorsing convention next spring. When they get there, they will both be hoping to bring fresh CD7 blood to Washington.