Blue Dog Democrats have been an endangered species in Congress for a few election cycles now, but they’re nearly extinct in the House of Representatives now that Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson has been defeated in the state’s 7th Congressional District.
Peterson, who’d represented the sprawling district in northern Minnesota since 1991, lost by double digits to Republican challenger Michelle Fischbach, a former state senator and Lt. Governor. Peterson was endorsed by the NRA, thanks to his long record of support for the Second Amendment, but Fischbach herself earned an “A” rating from the Second Amendment organization, which largely neutralized any advantage he would have had over a moderate, “gunsense” Republican.
Peterson, 76, represented a rare kind of rural Democrat within the party. He did not support Trump’s impeachment and frequently voted in favor of gun rights and anti-abortion legislation. Ultimately, the national polarization trend led to his downfall.
Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District will now be represented by Michelle Fischbach, a GOP recruit and former lieutenant governor.
Fischbach, who turned 55 on Nov. 3, ran a campaign tying Peterson to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and left-wing lawmakers. President Donald Trump’s endorsement featured prominently in her ads. She also earned broad support from anti-abortion groups, and her husband and mother-in-law hold leadership positions in the movement.
Fischbach served only one year as lieutenant governor in Minnesota but had been a state senator for 22 years. Her victory adds one more seat to the Republican minority, although the House remains in Democratic hands by a wide margin.
Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District is a largely rural area that runs almost the entire western length of the state and has an economy driven by agriculture.
Tuesday was pretty brutal for rural Democrats, and not just in Minnesota. Earlier, I wrote about the race in NM-02, where Republican Yvette Herrell defeated incumbent Democrat Xochitl Torres Small, and so far Democrats have not been able to pick up a single rural-dominated seat in the House that was held by Republicans.
Gun control may not have been the determining factor in Peterson’s race in Minnesota, but when an actual pro-gun Democrat (as opposed to one who merely claims that they support the right) gets tossed after 30-years in office, it should be a wake up call to the Democratic party nationally that their brand is downright toxic outside of big cities and suburbs.
Will this lead to a new breed of Blue Dog Democrats who vote in support of the Second Amendment? It’s way too early to tell, but keep an eye on Maine’s Jared Golden, a Democrat who won re-election on Tuesday despite Donald Trump winning his congressional district. In 2018, the Democratic congressman had a “D” rating with the NRA, but improved to a “B” this election cycle. If Democrats are serious about making up lost ground among rural voters, they’ll need to recruit more candidates like him, and Golden himself may need to further solidify his support for the Second Amendment before the midterm elections in two years.