MARSHALL - District 10 Republican Sen. Gretchen Hoffman said Friday she thinks she can give incumbent Collin Peterson "his toughest challenge to date" in this year's District 7 Congressional race.
Hoffman announced Friday she will campaign for the GOP nomination for the chance to unseat Peterson, who has a track record of success dating back to 1998.
"I had a great ground game in the 2010 election; we counted over 200 volunteers door-knocking for me and making phone calls, and I believe I'll be able to build on that grassroots support through this campaign in the 7th District," she said.
Hoffman, of Vergas, is serving her first term in the Minnesota Senate. Redistricting has put her in the same Senate district as fellow Republican Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen of Alexandria, creating a window of opportunity for Hoffman to pursue the congressional seat.
"People had been asking me for quite some time to consider running for Congress to challenge Collin Peterson, and about three or four months ago I started to consider it seriously," Hoffman said. "I had to wait and see how redistricting would play out, and when the map came out pairing me with Senator IngebrigtsenI knew he would represent our district well."
Lee Byberg, of Willmar, is also seeking the GOP endorsement. He lost to Peterson in 2010 by 17 percentage points. But that margin of defeat was a stark contrast to Peterson's previous victories.
In 1998, Peterson won in a landslide over Aleta Edin. Two years later, he defeated Glen Menze by nearly 30 percentage points. After cruising to a 31-percentage point win over Dan Stevens in 2002, he doubled up challenger David Sturrock of Marshall in 2004 and in 2006 handily defeated Michael Barrett by 30 percentage points.
Peterson breezed through again in 2008 over Menze, but found the going a bit more difficult in that 2010 election, as he defeated Byberg with 55 percent of the votes in his favor.
Hoffman, a business owner and registered nurse, called Peterson "part of the problem" in Washington, and said one of her talking points in the upcoming campaign will be Peterson's refusal to vote to repeal "Obamacare."
"We've increased the spending, increased the debt," Hoffman said. "Federal spending has really gotten out of control. We can't have $15 trillion in debt and think that's gonna grow the economy. He refused to vote against repealing 'Obamacare' and as a small business owner I understand what the mandates and increased taxes and everything that come down on businesses and individuals from that law. The idea he refused to vote to repeal that should say something to the people of District 7."
Hoffman is the chief Senate sponsor of a bill that passed the Senate on Thursday that would greatly expand the circumstances in which deadly force would be acceptable in the name of self-defense.
The 7th District covers much of western Minnesota, including the cities of Moorhead, Alexandria, Fergus Falls, Crookston, Willmar and Marshall.