Peterson talks re-election, airport issues
BEMIDJI — Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said Thursday a national GOP effort to thwart his recently announced re-election campaign for a 13th term in Congress won’t be successful.
In response to a quote by a National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman declaring their intention to unseat him, Peterson remained defiant.
“I don’t think that the people of the Seventh District want people in Washington to come out here and decide who’s their representative, and I don’t think it’s going to fly,” he said.
Peterson said although his district backed Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race, he was re-elected by a larger percentage of voters than had voted for Romney. He said the national GOP does not understand his district, but his campaign would concern itself with issues that were important to local voters.
“It is what it is,” he said of efforts to defeat him. “It’s the way things operate nowadays. We’re focused on the district, and... I think that will easily prevail in the fall.”
Peterson discussed his campaign Thursday after speaking via teleconference with Bemidji Regional Airport officials and businesspeople on transportation issues.
Peterson had planned to have an in-person meeting at the airport, but poor weather prevented him from flying from Detroit Lakes. Instead, he talked about federal pilot regulations and airport funding via conference call.
Newly selected Bemidji Regional Airport director Karen Weller told Peterson that possible new federal pilot regulations could cause less flights at the airport.
“We all want safety... I’m certainly not suggesting any different,” Weller said. “But the new changes in the pilot requirements are really going to start taking pilots from the regional carriers, and they’re going to moving up to major airlines.”
Peterson said he had worked for years to increase the mandatory retirement age for pilots.
“I don’t think there’s any reason we have to have it as low as it is,” he said. “We’ve had some terrible accidents ... but we have to be practical about how this works, too.”
Also on Thursday, Peterson was selected to deliver the keynote address during the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party’s state convention March 28-29 at the Fargo Civic Center.