Peterson makes it official — he’s running

After weeks of speculation, Minnesota 7th District Congressman Collin Peterson made it official last week. He is running for another term in Congress.
The groans from the district Republicans was audible. They were banking on the veteran Democrat finally getting out of the way so they could reclaim the so-called Republican 7th District as their own.
Won’t happen. Because, as Peterson said during a quick visit last week in Hutchinson, “People in this district are smarter than that.”
Peterson is a favorite of mine. He is one of the few remaining “Blue Dog” Democrats in Congress, fiscally conservative, yet capable of working in a bipartisan way to get things accomplished.
We need more of his kind, not fewer.
So, district Republicans, perhaps two years from now will be a different story for the soon-to-be 70-year old congressman from Detroit Lakes. But then again, maybe not.
Peterson literally landed in Hutchinson last Wednesday afternoon, via his own airplane, after stops earlier in the day at Pipestone, Marshall and Montevideo. He had one more stop in Litchfield before heading home for the day.
He was an entourage of one, another rarity in politics these days. He didn’t need any press secretary and public relations assistant. Dressed in a suit coat and blue jeans, Peterson comes off as the neighbor next door, out for a chat over a cup of coffee.
But behind those pale blue eyes and weathered face is a shrewd politician with vast knowledge of Congress and how it should work.
But it was the dysfunction of the legislative process of late that sparked the “drama,” as he called it, over his impending retirement. Drama created by Republicans, he added.
He never makes up his mind until about this time each election cycle, he said. No different this cycle.
Peterson seemed pretty relaxed, especially after passage of the contentious new Farm Bill, that seemed to be agreed upon, then fell apart, and finally was agreed upon again. “For the worse,” Peterson added.
He said he decided to run for another term “to make sure the Farm Bill gets implemented.” It did not take long before its details were being picked apart by opponents, he added.
But Peterson said the bill making process is pretty good in hammering out legislation. “It is a diverse group (House Ag Committee). We do a lot of listening, but do not give everybody everything.”
He said the Farm Bill, like many other federal bills, “is hugely complicated.”
In a nutshell, Peterson said, the Farm Bill seemed to have bipartisan support, that included cuts in the Food Stamp program, with the necessary votes lined up for passage. Then Tea Party members started to add their own amendments, and that cost some of the bipartisan votes. The bill was defeated.
Then the ag committee, of which he is the senior Democrat, had to start again in piecing another bill together, along with enough votes, that, when finally passed, “was a worse deal,” Peterson said.
Such is life in the halls of Congress.
Peterson said his philosophy is “I never let the party run me.” We like that philosophy.
So what has been the reaction to his run for re-election in he tours around the massive 7th District?
“It has been an outpouring of support since I announced I’m running,” Peterson said.
So will bipartisanship ever return to Washington, D.C.?
Peterson, always optimistic, said progress is being made. “Some stuff is working.”
Considering we are talking about Washington, D.C., we’ll take that as progress.