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Election Profile: Minnesota's 7th Congressional District (2008)

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Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of all the Upper Midwestern U.S. Senate and U.S. House races leading up to the November 4th elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics' official projections. The twenty-third profile in the series is Minnesota's 7th Congressional District race.

Candidates:
DFL: Collin C. Petersen (9-term incumbent)
Republican: Glen Menze

District Geography:
Minnesota's 7th Congressional District comprises counties along the western rim of the state: Becker, Big Stone, Chippewa, Clay, Clearwater, Douglas, Grant, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Lac Qui Parle, Lake of the Woods, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Marshall, McLeod, Meeker, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Pope, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Roseau, Sibley, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wilkin, Yellow Medicine, and parts of Beltrami and Stearns counties.

History:
Collin Peterson is one of three Upper Midwestern Blue Dog Democrats comprising the nearly four-dozen member body in the US House. Peterson entered Congress by defeating seven-term GOP incumbent Arlan Stangeland by 7.1 points back in 1990. Peterson then narrowly won re-election in 1992 (by 1.3 points) and 1994 (2.6 points) before thoroughly dominating his GOP counterparts from 1996-2002 by an average margin of victory of 37 points. In 2004 Peterson beat his Republican opponent David Sturrock by 32.3 points and in 2006 he rolled to a 40.7-point victory over Michael J. Barrett.

Peterson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has been known to frequently cross party lines and vote with the GOP, and is a strong advocate of fiscal conservatism. Congressional Quarterly found Peterson to have the lowest party loyalty score (at approximately 70 percent) of any member of Minnesota's Congressional delegation over the past five years (second was retiring Representative Jim Ramstad, and third was Senator Norm Coleman).

Republican Glen Menze, an accountant, is staging a belated rematch against Peterson: in 2000, Menze lost to Peterson by a 68.7 percent to 29.3 percent margin. Menze is running to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, to cut spending, to reduce regulation of small businesses, to stop illegal immigration, to advocate pro-life and pro-traditional marriage policies, and to reduce energy costs through more domestic drilling and developing new nuclear plants, and hydrogen, wind, solar, and bio-fuel technologies.

Outlook:
The 7th Congressional District is one of the more conservative in the state: Tim Pawlenty carried the district by 8.4 points in 2006, George W. Bush carried it by 12.4 points in 2004 and by 14.6 points in 2000. Rod Grams also won the district by 4.4 points over Mark Dayton in 2000. Despite its conservative tendencies, Republicans have not offered up a competitive candidate against Peterson in the district since 1994. While a traditional Democrat in the 7th District may be nervous on Election Day, a Blue Dog Democrat like Peterson will have few worries.

Previous post: Election Profile: Minnesota's 6th Congressional District (2008)
Next post: Election Profile: Minnesota's 8th Congressional District (2008)

2 Comments


  • nice article, thank you

  • You may think the Blue Dogs are safe in more conservative districts, but there has gotten to be such a large number of progressive liberals in these areas, that they are about to dump the Blue Dog if he looks like an Elephant. Even to the point of voting Republican to start fresh and get the Blue Dogs out. The the Dogs screw everyone.

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

    Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

    Political Crumbs

    Six for Thirteen

    Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


    Seeing Red

    Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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