While state senator Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake) touts the need for a fresh perspective in Washington in his challenge to veteran Blue Dog Democratic congressman Collin Peterson, his message is anything but fresh.
In Thursday's MinnPost, Devin Henry reported in With little policy difference, Westrom hopes to pin Peterson to national Democrats:
Indeed, on issues, Wednesday's debate showed little difference between the Republican and Democratic candidates. So Westrom, a state Senator making his first challenge to Peterson, one of the last remaining moderate Democrats in the U.S. House, said afterward his strategy this fall will be to latch onto other policy areas where Peterson might be weak in an otherwise Republican-leaning district.
And if there's any agreement there — and there definitely is — he's going to try linking Peterson with national Democrats like President Obama and Nancy Pelosi.
Where have we heard that before? At the August 2010 Farmfest, when Forum Communications political reporter Don Davis wrote:
The two major candidates to represent western Minnesota in the U.S. House show relatively few differences on farm policy, but the challenger says U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson is part of the congressional leadership that is tilting politically left.
Republican Lee Byberg said Peterson endorses President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a time when Americans are tired of liberal politics.
Earlier that year, Davis reported in Byberg links Peterson, Pelosi:
The GOP’s Lee Byberg, candidate to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, is following the lead of many earlier Republican candidates in trying to link Peterson to liberal congressional leaders.
Byberg ran again in 2012, repeating pretty much the same message, and lost again.
Davis's coverage of Wednesday's debate in U.S. House candidates agree and disagree tells pretty much the same story as the one Henry shares:
In a nearly 90-minute forum at the annual Farmfest agriculture event, few differences surfaced in the western and southern districts that cover most of Minnesota’s farm country. Incumbent Democrats U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz repeatedly talked about their records of helping farmers, even working with Republicans. Challengers relied on their feeling that it is time for a change.
After the forum, State Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, said that Peterson’s 24 years in office is enough.
“Are you satisfied with how Washington is working,” Westrom asked after the forum, linking many of the problems to Peterson and his fellow Democrats.
Not only is Westrom repeating Byberg's strategy and talking points, he's recycling campaign leadership as well. Westrom campaign manager Liz Gorham also served as Byberb campaign manager in 2012.
We're not sure how someone convinces voters that the same old talking points signal that you're fresh and different (especially when you offer no clear policy differences from your opponent), but Westrom is certainly giving it a try.
Photo: Collin Peterson and Lee Byberg at Farmfest in 2010. We thought we'd heard yesterday's debate between Peterson and Westrom before--and more than once. Photo via Don Davis, Capitol Chatter, 2010.
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