Lone Democrat to oppose impeachment will seek reelection

Lone Democrat to oppose impeachment will seek reelection
© Greg Nash

Minnesota Rep. Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonFrom farmers to grocery store clerks, thank you to all of our food system Group of House Democrats asks for 0 billion for testing The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Chef José Andrés says most political leaders today are not acting with urgency; Dems crafting 'Rooseveltian' relief package MORE, the influential Agriculture Committee chairman and the last remaining opponent of both impeachment articles in Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi Sunday shows preview: Leaders weigh in as country erupts in protest over George Floyd death 5 things to know about US-China tensions over Hong Kong Pelosi calls Trump's decision to withdraw US from WHO 'an act of extraordinary senselessness' MORE’s Democratic caucus, will run for reelection this year in a district where President TrumpDonald John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE is enormously popular, sources said.

Peterson's decision to run for another term is good news for Democrats, who probably would be more likely to lose the seat without him. 

The veteran lawmaker is one of the top targets of House Republicans this cycle, in part because his rural Minnesota district has been trending more conservative in recent cycles. In 2016, Trump beat Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump campaign launches Asian Pacific Americans coalition Van Jones: A 'white, liberal Hillary Clinton supporter' can pose a greater threat to black Americans than the KKK Taylor Swift slams Trump tweet: 'You have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence?' MORE by more than 30 points, 61.8 percent to 31 percent, in Peterson’s district. But Peterson still won his race.

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In previous elections, former President Obama had captured 44.1 percent of the vote in 2012 and 47.1 percent in 2008 in Peterson’s district.

Peterson’s political survival — he’s running for his 16th House term, a development first reported by Politico — has demonstrated the power of incumbency. As the district has grown more Republican, he’s been able to stave off GOP opponents and win reelection, touting the Agriculture Committee gavel he held from 2007 to 2011 and currently holds, as well as his record of breaking with his party on key issues.

Peterson, now 75 years old, was one of 34 Democrats to vote against ObamaCare, though he has opposed subsequent GOP efforts to repeal the landmark health care law.

More recently, Peterson was one of only two House Democrats to oppose the article to impeach against Trump for abuse of power. A third, Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), also voted "no" on the article charging Trump with obstruction of Congress related to his dealings with Ukraine.

The other Democrat, freshman New Jersey Rep. Jefferson Van Drew, promptly switched parties during a televised Oval Office meeting with Trump, leaving Peterson as the lone Democrat to have opposed both impeachment articles.

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With Trump back on the ballot this fall, Republicans see this year as their best chance to oust Peterson. In the 2018 midterms, Republicans came within striking distance; Peterson fended off GOP challenger Dave Hughes by a margin of 52.1 percent to 47.9 percent. 

Republicans began salivating last summer when Peterson reported that he had sold his Washington, D.C., condominium for $460,000, a sign that the veteran lawmaker might soon retire. Now that he’s running, Republicans said they still don’t think he’ll need that home in D.C. next year.

“Good thing Collin Peterson already sold his house in D.C. – it’ll make the logistics a heck of lot easier once he loses in November,” said Calvin Moore, a spokesman for the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership. “The Democrats have put socialism on the ballot in 2020 and Collin Peterson will own every bit of it.”

Peterson’s decision came just days after former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points Biden: 'We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us' MORE consolidated support from more-moderate Democrats and reclaimed his presidential front-runner status with a series of unexpected Super Tuesday victories over liberal Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersExpanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support The battle of two Cubas Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Ro Khanna MORE (I-Vt.).

Centrists like Peterson have argued that they would have a much easier time winning reelection with a moderate like Biden at the top of the ticket compared to Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist.