The agenda must be dumb and dumber for the folks at the National Republican Congressional Committee if the best they can do is go after 7th District Congressman Collin Peterson, D-Minn. Peterson, who has been re-elected again and again since 1990, is in the committee’s sights, but the lenses must be fogged. Or maybe it’s the judgment of the committee that’s foggy.

In recent missives to media, the NRCC twists itself into knots trying to make the impossible case that because Peterson’s quarterly fundraising wasn’t a barn-burner, he’s weak among the 7th’s voters – or sillier yet, because the congressman has not decided (publicly at least) if he will seek re-election.

Oh my, how out of touch is the NRCC with the 7th? After decades of losing to Peterson, the NRCC still is woefully short of understanding why the congressman appeals across party lines in a district that trends conservative but leans Democratic. In other words, the 7th is Peterson.

First, the congressman’s fundraising for the first quarter might not measure up to an arbitrary standard set by the NRCC. Big deal. Peterson does not have to raise a heap of money to win. The record proves it.

Second, Peterson has been talking openly about retirement for the past two election cycles. He’s at the age when one considers retirement. He’s been honest about it, and honest about not having made a firm decision. Right now, he’s running, he said in May. If he changes his mind he will say so long before the campaign in the 7th cranks up. His timetable won’t be set by NRCC cheap shots.

Best bet? He runs. He wins.

Finally, the NRCC is trying mightily to make the case that Peterson is in league with the far-left wing of his party, as represented by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Such nonsense is another indication that the NRCC assessment of the 7th is at best incomplete, at worst plain ol’ ignorant.

Of course, the congressman must work with his leader in the House. Of course, he’ll vote for the Democratic candidate for president. No surprises there. But Peterson’s appeal goes to issues, and to the way he represents the people of the 7th. By that measure, it’s routine for him to disagree with party leadership on everything from the dairy program to gun control to pro-life matters. The people of the 7th know that about their congressman. The dumb and dumber crowd at the NRCC doesn’t get it.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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