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Pioneer editorial: Collin Peterson has earned another term

Change for change’s sake isn’t always a good thing.

Dedicated, informed lawmakers who have a pulse on their constituents’ interests shouldn’t be cast from office because of the dysfunction within the body of government they work.

In spite of the country’s dissatisfaction with Congress, there are some House of Representative members who offer hope of bipartisanship, compromise and solutions to many struggles facing our nation.

The 7th Congressional District is represented by one in Democrat Collin Peterson. The 11-term congressman is seeking a 12th two-year term. He’s earned it and should be re-elected.

One of the few remaining “blue dogs” in the U.S. House of Representatives, Peterson’s clout is a result of his hard work and the respect he’s garnered from both sides of the political aisle, in particular because of his expertise on farm legislation. He is the go-to guy in the House when it comes to farm bills.

A long-time member of the Agriculture Committee (as chairman and ranking member), Peterson’s grasp of production agriculture, farm legislation and agribusiness is second to none. But knowing the details of ag legislation is only one element of his success.

Peterson is devoted to solving the nation’s biggest issues.

In a political culture controlled by the major parties, and congressional members voting the party line an overwhelming amount of the time, Peterson is one of the few left in the middle who understands the country’s polarization presents a significant obstacle for change.

The congressman represents one of the largest geographic districts – which includes Bemidji, far northern Beltrami County and the strip of the two most western townships on the border of Clearwater County – in the nation. Farming, natural resources and timber are all facets of the expansive district’s interests. Peterson knows his constituents and political leanings.

For example, he was one of very few of the president’s party who voted against Obamacare, to the irritation of those on his party’s left. However, he is pragmatic enough to understand the entire health care law won’t be repealed but rather needs to be fixed.

Peterson also understands our nation’s budget course is unsustainable and requires an overhaul, but raising taxes isn’t the solution. He’d cut back on military spending and make changes to Medicare so the wealthy pay more.

The other candidates challenging him – Republican Lee Byberg and the Independence Party’s Adam Steele – offer little hope for change in Washington. Two years ago, Byberg sought the seat, and lost in a landslide. Steele is a perennial political candidate with no legitimate platform.

Cravaack deserves re-election in 8th

This year’s campaign in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District has attracted interest and money from across the country.

Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack, who ousted a long-time congressman, faces a challenge from Rick Nolan, the Democrat whose last foray into politics was as a congressman more than 30 years ago in the wake of the Vietnam War.

Now running as an incumbent, Cravaack also has been running against a machine focused on pumping out misinformation, half-truths and ugliness.

The congressman, though, is the same passionate leader carrying the same message: cut out wasteful government spending and stand up for his constituents’ interests. He deserves to be re-elected.

Truth be told, the retired naval officer has focused little time or effort in the Bemidji area, on the western stretches of the district, which includes the townships north, east and south of the city. Cravaack, though, and his staff have established hundreds of “mobile office” meetings, including several in the region, for listening sessions with residents.

His opponent has spent even less time and effort, opting instead to focus efforts in the Duluth area and rely on negative campaign ads to foster dissent.