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Guest Editorial: Attack ad won’t fly in the 7th

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., is square in the sights of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

The long-serving District 7 congressman is described in a new NRCC cable TV ad as an out-of-touch politician who has been in Congress too long.

The voters of the district disagree. And it is likely (although anything can happen before November 2014) Peterson will easily win another term if he decides to run again. By the way, he should seek re-election. He’s done well by the people of the 7th and they have rewarded him again and again with near-landslide victories.

It’s curious the NRCC would paint a bull’s-eye on Peterson’s political back for the 2014 tilt. He won in a walk in 2010 and 2012 over the same Republican candidate, businessman Lee Byberg. In 2010, the so-called “wave year” that saw many popular veteran Democratic congressmen lose to newcomer Republicans (Rep. James Oberstar in Minnesota’s 8th District; Rep. Earl Pomeroy in North Dakota), Peterson prevailed handily over Byberg by nearly 18 points. Seventh District Republicans, apparently on the low side of the learning curve, again sent Byberg into the fray in 2012, only to see their standard-bearer trounced by a 25-point margin. Which leads to the questions: Will it be Byberg again? Is a third try the charm?

Unlikely. After all, the 7th is the second-most Republican/ conservative district in the state, after retiring Michele Bachmann’s 6th. And in two runs Byberg forcefully articulated policy positions within a conservative tea-party context. He was clear. He worked hard. The 7th didn’t buy into it – twice.

Peterson knows the people of his district. He has represented their interests as a moderate Blue Dog Democrat. They seem more than satisfied with his work. Despite the NRCC’s attempt to paint him as anti-farmer, most farmers in the 7th know better. Despite the lame charge that Peterson is responsible for “gridlock and dysfunction in Washington,” voters in the district know which party controls the U.S. House; they know House Republicans are blocking a balanced farm bill.

Peterson should welcome the NRCC’s attack ad. It seems desperate. It is shallow political boilerplate. He can enjoy the rest of the August recess in the beautiful 7th, and take some comfort that the NRCC is targeting him. He’ll spin it into a badge of honor.

This editorial was originally published in the Fargo Forum, which is owned by Forum Communications Co. It represents the opinions of the Fargo Forum management and editorial board.