Democratic Congressman May Face Serious Threat from GOP Challenger

Democratic Congressman May Face Serious Threat from GOP Challenger Click to Enlarge Photo: Wikimedia Commons

(AP) - In the midst of a difficult harvest slowed by muddy fields, Jeff Ampe wasn’t thinking much about elections or impeachment. When prodded on his congressman, he’s all positive: Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, he says, has done “a good job for agriculture, standing up for us all the time.”

Still, ask the central Minnesota farmer whether he’ll vote next year for Peterson or his likely Republican opponent, former state senator Michelle Fischbach, and he takes a long pause to consider.

“That’s a tough one,” Ampe said. “I always voted for Collin. And I always voted for Michelle. So I don’t know how I would.”

Ampe’s indecision shows how tough things are for Peterson, a 75-year-old conservative Democrat who has defied political trends and Donald Trump to hold on to his increasingly Republican rural district. The chair of the House Agriculture Committee, Peterson has relied on his influence on farm policy, his willingness to buck his party and his accessibility to win votes in a district Trump carried by a whopping 31 percentage points.

But with growing polarization in Washington and an impeachment probe forcing partisans to their corners, it is increasingly difficult for politicians like Peterson to survive behind enemy lines. His chairmanship and agricultural credentials may no longer be enough. And as he’s pounded by outside groups for an impeachment inquiry he does not support, he must weigh whether he’s willing to keep at it.

Peterson has said he won’t decide whether to run again until January or February, He was one of two Democrats who voted against opening the impeachment inquiry, and ridiculed the hearings as a “media circus” in one of his weekly newsletters last month. He lists himself as “undecided” on how he’ll vote on articles of impeachment. He declined to be interviewed.

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