As we return to the windswept prairies of Minnesota's Seventh Congressional district to visit Torrey Westrom's campaign website, we discover that his staff were trying to get a firm grip on Congressman Collin Peterson's whereabout last week when President Obama and Nancy Pelosi were both in the Cities for public events and a fundraiser.
On June 26th, Westrom staffer Tim Albrecht posted a press release, RELEASE: Obama, Pelosi Campaign for Collin Peterson in Minneapolis Today. But, Will Peterson Show Up? which asked the following probing questions:
President Barack Obama and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are hosting a fundraiser this evening in Minneapolis on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Minnesota Democratic Congressional Delegation, including Congressman Collin Peterson. While we are confident that the congressman is going to gladly accept his share of the proceeds, we wonder if he is also going to accept the baggage that comes with campaigning alongside an extremely unpopular president and minority leader? The Peterson campaign and his official office have not issued any statements or media avails concerning tonight’s Obama hosted event. So, inquiring minds want to know – is Congressman Peterson going to campaign with the president and Nancy Pelosi and accept the funds raised from their event?
It's apparently that Westrom's staff didn't read Democratic Sens. Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar to ride out with Obama on Air Force One Thursday, a Star Tribune Hot Dish blog post published on June 25, which reported that Peterson wasn't attending:
Democratic Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar will ride out with President Barack Obama Thursday to Minneapolis and attend events with him both days, staffers confirmed Wednesday. . . .
Other confirmed Democrats from the Congressional delegation attending at least some of the events with Obama: Rep. Rick Nolan, Rep. Tim Walz, Rep. Betty McCollum and Rep. Keith Ellison. Rep. Collin Peterson will not go to any of them.
On June 26, the paper reported in White House: St. Anthony mom speaks for nation:
Obama will overnight in Bloomington and also attend a fundraiser Thursday at the home of Sylvia and Samuel Kaplan in Minneapolis benefiting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Samuel Kaplan, a lawyer, was the Moroccan ambassador for Obama from 2009 to 2013.
Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken will fly out with the president on Air Force One. Staffers with both senators said they wanted to talk to the president about the recent flooding in Minnesota. Franken and Klobuchar will also attend official events Thursday and Friday with the president. The Friday speech is open to the public but all the tickets were given away Wednesday.
Other confirmed Democrats from the congressional delegation attending at least some of the events with Obama: Rep. Rick Nolan, Rep. Tim Walz, Rep. Betty McCollum and Rep. Keith Ellison. Rep. Collin Peterson will not go to any of them.
It's not unusual for Peterson not to show at events outside his district--but to welcome dignitaries when they do visit. He once introduced Pelosi to the glories of pork chops on a stick sold by the Farm Bureau Pork Chop Stand at Farmfest, which is a thing rather than a metaphor.
But the Republican strategy came before Pelosi's chance to nosh on a chop with the Farm Bureau. Linking Peterson to Pelosi goes back more than a decade. MPR's Dan Gunderson reported in 2004's Republicans face uphill battle in the 7th:
. . .Sturrock points to Petersons support for U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a liberal Democrat from California.
"The most important single vote he cast is for Speaker of the House and he has chosen to support Nancy Pelosi and by extension a very liberal approach to cultural issues which is very much at odds with what we believe here in western Minnesota," says Sturrock.
Republican candidates have tried unsuccessfully to portray Congressman Peterson as a liberal in the past several election cycles.
It's a failed strategy, according to Barbara Headrick, Minnesota State University Moorhead political science professor.
"The voters have a sense that they know this person (Peterson). They call him by his first name, and you're always in trouble if you've got an incumbent they call by his first name. They have a very good sense who this person is and they know he's not Nancy Pelosi from very left wing California," says Headrick. . . .
In 2008, AgWeek reported that Glen Menze tried it:
Menze and other Republicans like to portray Peterson as a supporter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco liberal.
Peterson said he has Pelosi's ear, although often not her vote. He said the speaker allows him to bring up agriculture-oriented bills and other measures, even when she does not like them.
"She is liberal, no question about it," he said. "And she and I don't agree on much. But she and I found a way to work together."
As for Franken and Klobuchar's plane ride on Air Force One, the Strib reported that a vote caused Minnesota's Senators to miss their ride. As the tweet above indicates, Klobuchar got a chance to see Peterson and Sixth District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann on the flight back, snapping this selfie.
We who live in the Seventh might find the photo frightening, but we're not sure how Westrom's staff can use it to their advantage.
Note: It's Congressman Peterson's birthday. Happy birthday to him. He's interviewed on Agri-Pulse today. It's a wide-ranging interview, ranging from the new "waters of the United States" rules proposed by the EPA and raising the federal gas tax to the inability of the Congress to move forward on ag policy.
Photo: Senator Klobuchar's tweeted selfie with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (left) and Congressman Collin Peterson (right).
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