Andrew Trunsky, DCNF
Minnesota Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar, saying that “she doesn’t belong in our party” in a September video, according to the Star Tribune.
His comments came in response to an operative for the National Republican Congressional Committee, who asked Peterson why he defended Omar after she said that “some people did something,” referring to the 9/11 attacks. The video was first obtained by the New York Post.
Peterson, who called himself the “only conservative Democrat left” to the Star Tribune, has represented western Minnesota for the past three decades. He was one of the few Democrats to vote against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and was one of two Democrats to vote against both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump in 2019. (The other, New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, joined the GOP shortly after the vote.)
Now, as Congress becomes more polarized, Peterson has found himself increasingly isolated, the Tribune reported. While the Blue Dog Democrat won reelection in 2016 as Trump won his district by over 30 points, he now faces a competitive challenge from former GOP Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach.
Of the 235 Democrats in the House, Peterson is the only one who is pro-life and has an “A” rating from the N.R.A.
“If I hear the words ‘common sense gun legislation’ one more time, I’ll throw up,” he said last year, according to the Tribune.
Peterson who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, has relied on the farm industry’s support throughout his time in Congress. His district is the largest supplier of sugar beets in the nation, and the industry has raised over $1 million supporting his reelection, according to the MinnPost.
His comments toward Omar reflect Peterson’s increased willingness to criticize his own party, a point which he stressed during his September debate against Fischbach.
“I don’t see myself as partisan. I see myself as an American. And what I do is I’m a representative. I go to D.C. and I represent my district. If my district is out of tune with my party, I don’t care. I’m going to represent my district and let the chips fall where they may,” Peterson said.
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