Former Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach easily won the GOP nomination to challenge Rep. Collin Peterson this fall, but the House Agriculture Committee chairman starts with a financial advantage.
Fischbach, who was endorsed by President Donald Trump on Monday, won 59% of the vote in a five-candidate GOP primary in Minnesota's 7th District that included Dave Hughes, who lost to Peterson by four percentage points in 2018, with most of the vote counted as of Wednesday. Hughes, a former Air Force officer, mustered just 22% of the vote.
Peterson won the three-way Democratic primary with abut 76% of the vote.
A poll conducted Aug. 2-5 by The Tarrance Group, a GOP firm, had Fischbach leading Peterson by 52% to 42%. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%.
“Since I entered the race, I have been focused on defeating Collin Peterson and representing western Minnesota on all of their values and priorities,” Fischbach said in a statement.
“As voters in Greater Minnesota watch our cities burning, they know the future of our country is at stake. Peterson says he is with us, but will always vote to keep Nancy Pelosi and democrats in power. People in western Minnesota want to fire Nancy Pelosi, and they are realizing that means we have to retire Collin Peterson first.”
Peterson had $1.3 million on hand as of July 22, compared to $342,880 for Fischbach, She has raised just over $1 million, compared to Peterson’s $1.3 million.
Peterson is highly regarded among farm groups, who see him as a powerful ally in a party that is moving increasingly left. The 15-term incumbent also is relying on the support of the sugar industry and some other agribusiness interests.
Peterson and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign wing of House Democrats, did not respond to requests for comment.
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An independent political action committee called the Committee for Stronger Rural Communities was formed to support Peterson and had raised $716,000 as of June 30, including $300,000 from American Crystal Sugar, $100,000 from the US Beet Sugar Association, and $50,000 from the United States Sugar Corp.
The group said in a tweet late Wednesday, "Congress has a significant role in shaping national policy for rural health care. @collinpeterson has a strong track record of fighting for more resources and improved services."
National Republicans are targeting the race, too, since it is one of their best pickup opportunities. Trump won the district by more than 30 points in 2016.
“This ruby red, Trump +30 district is desperate for conservative leadership now more than ever,” according to an assessment fo the race posted by the National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday. “As the Democrat Party moves further and further left, there is simply no room in Congress for Collin Peterson who even admitted he’s been 'neutered' and can no longer deliver results for Western Minnesota like he used to.”
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