ST PAUL — With Republicans setting their sights on Minnesota's 7th Congressional District as a top flip opportunity, 16 lawmakers in the state — including top party leaders in the state House and Senate — are endorsing former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach's candidacy.

Eight Republicans in the state Senate and eight in the House on Monday, Oct. 28, backed Fischbach for the seat long-held by Democratic-Farmer-Labor U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson. In office since 1991, Peterson held on to the seat in the 2018 midterms by a 4% margin.

But the 7th District, which encompasses nearly the entire western border of the state, voted for President Donald Trump by a 30-point margin in 2016. With Trump on the ballot again in 2020, Republicans hope momentum builds in the district for a Republican House candidate.

The 16 state legislators' endorsements come six days after U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy endorsed Fischbach on Twitter. State Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt were among Monday's endorsers.

In a battle against a near-30-year incumbent, Daudt said Fischbach is "the best candidate in the 7th District race to challenge Collin Peterson."

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In addition to Gazelka and Daudt, Sens. Paul Utke, Justin Eichorn, Bill Ingebrigtsen, Jeff Howe, Gary Dahms, Andrew Lang and Bill Weber, as well as Reps. Ron Kresha, Paul Anderson, Lisa Demuth, Tim Miller, Chris Swedzinski, Dave Baker, Joe Schomacker endorsed Fischbach Monday.