Editor's Note: This editorial has been updated to clarify that Lee Byberg opposes the dairy section of the proposed Farm Bill of 2012.
The 7th Congressional District, including much of west central Minnesota, faces the same choice in 2012 as two years ago: Collin Peterson, a Democrat from Detroit Lakes, or Lee Byberg, a Republican from Willmar.
The choice is simple: Peterson has a strong record over his 11 terms and deserves to be re-elected for another two years.
Peterson is a congressman with an independent streak, often voting for what he believes is right regardless of either party. He opposed both the 2009 economic stimulus plan and the 2010 health care reform act, both major issues to the Obama administration.
He is a fiscally conservative Democrat and was a founding member of the Blue Dog Coalition in the House. A social conservative, he opposes abortion and gun control. His positions often match those of his rural district.
Peterson has worked hard in Congress, especially on the Farm Bill. As ranking minority member on the House Agriculture Committee, he is a major player in agriculture issues. He remains a force behind the 2012 Farm Bill and will strive to move this bill forward during the coming lame duck session of Congress.
He has also displayed a unique ability to work across party lines and interest groups. He has demonstrated such on farm legislation where he has to work with everyone -- from the poultry and hog industries to the ethanol industry or from the dairy industry to the food industry.
Peterson has continually won re-election in recent years by double-digit margins, primarily because he gets along, he knows how to work in a bipartisan manner and he treats all with respect.
Byberg is a Willmar business executive, serving in several positions with Willmar Poultry Co. His primary campaign issue still remains the out-of-control government spending, a rerun of his 2010 tea party line. He also opposed the health care reform act and the proposed dairy part of the 2012 Farm Bill. Byberg's message just has not connected well with voters in this campaign.
Peterson remains straightforward and direct so voters always know where he stands. He continues to work hard on issues of importance in his district: passing a farm bill, working toward deficit reduction or fixing health care reform.
We believe the best choice for 7th District voters is re-electing Peterson to Congress.