The Democratic Party of the Past, and the Future

Collin Peterson is the closest thing to a conservative Democrat in Congress. He has represented Minnesota’s 7th District, the Northwestern and West Central portion of the state, since 1991. He is currently Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. At one time Peterson was an icon in the district, but his enthusiasm for campaigning has waned and in recent cycles, as his district moved farther away from the Democratic Party, his margin of victory has steadily declined. In 2016, the 7th District went for Donald Trump by 30 points. Peterson is one of the last Democrats in the House, possibly the last, to represent a rural district.

Last week, Peterson tried to distance himself from fellow Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar:

“Do you have any comment as to why you defended Ilhan Omar?” an employee with the National Republican Congressional Committee asked Peterson on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

“I don’t defend her. She doesn’t belong in our party,” the 16-term lawmaker responded.

When asked to clarify himself, a COVID-19-masked Peterson repeated, “She doesn’t belong in our party,” as he walked away.

But in this year’s primary, Omar easily defeated a well-financed, more moderate Democratic opponent. Her Republican opponent in the general election is Lacy Johnson, an excellent candidate who deserves your support. But in an overwhelmingly Democratic, and remarkably left-wing, district, Omar is the overwhelming favorite to be re-elected.

Collin Peterson, on the other hand, is likely closing out his political career. He has a credible opponent in Michelle Fischbach and, in a district where President Trump is wildly popular, Republican turnout should be huge. So most likely, Ilhan Omar will be returning to Washington after November 3, and Collin Peterson won’t be.

Peterson says that Omar “doesn’t belong in our party,” but in reality, it is Collin Peterson who doesn’t belong in the Democratic Party. It is Ilhan Omar’s party now.

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