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Opponents feel experience key in Minnesota 7th District

Two longtime lawmakers are facing off in the Nov.

Two longtime lawmakers are facing off in the Nov. 5 election for Minnesota's 7th Congressional District seat.

Democrat Collin Peterson has held the House of Representatives job for the past 12 years.

Republican challenger Dan Stevens has served in the Minnesota state Senate for the past 10 years.

The 7th District has been reconfigured and now stretches from Canada to within two counties of Iowa, encompassing much of western Minnesota.

Peterson and Stevens, both pilots, have done much of their own flying around the state.


Stevens has attacked Peterson's record, charging that he has not authored significant legislation.

"I'm not in this race because I dislike Collin Peterson," Stevens said. "In fact, I rather like Collin Peterson. But I don't think Collin is exhibiting vision and leadership and he certainly is not taking action up here."

Peterson dismissed the criticisms, stating that as he travels the district, "the biggest thing I pick up is nobody knows who my opponent is."

Peterson said as a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee he was among those who helped shape the latest farm bill and secure "a very good sugar provision."

Overall, he said, the new farm bill made improvements over the one passed in 1996. "People are aware I've been working for the area," Peterson said.

Stevens' campaign has focused on deregulation, especially in areas such as agriculture and nursing homes.

Stevens said the 7th District has one of the largest populations of seniors of any district in Minnesota and he said reworking the rules covering nursing homes would be a priority for him.

"The idea is to reduce regulation on top-shelf operations and put the surveyors and regulators into the nursing homes that are of lower quality," Stevens said.


He said 22 of the 35 counties in the district are seeing an out-migration of younger families. Rural areas could be revitalized, he said, by bringing in new industry and new jobs with appropriate tax credits.

Stevens said he would be a strong supporter of the president, especially when it comes to foreign affairs.

"From my travels, people are expressing a concern that we as a nation are not headed in the right direction," Stevens said. "They feel there is a need for a change in Congress that supports the president and this administration's policies."

Peterson said Medicare reform is high on his agenda, eclipsing Social Security as a front-burner issue.

"Right now," he said, "we're taking in more money (with Social Security) than we're spending. At some point, it's going to start going the other way but politically (reform) is not going to happen for five to six years.

"We've got a bigger problem with Medicare," he said. "That's what I've been focusing on, the (hospital) reimbursement situation."

Peterson said the House passed a bill that would have significantly improved the situation for rural hospitals, but the Senate has yet to pass a similar measure.

On the subject of agriculture, Stevens took aim at the federal dairy program, which he said penalizes Minnesota farmers.


"Government regulation in agriculture," Stevens said, "is not a farm policy as much as it is a cheap food policy."

The Congressional seat carries a two-year term and a salary of $133,600.

Readers can reach Moorhead Bureau Chief Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com.
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