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Peterson gains easy victory over Menze

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state Willmar, 56201

Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

ST. PAUL -- Like most incumbent Minnesota U.S. representatives, Democrat Collin Peterson notched an easy win Tuesday.

Serving his 9th term, the 64-year-old Peterson is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, a platform that gives him national exposure. Most campaign money he collected was turned over to other candidates' campaign committees since he needed so little to run for re-election.

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Peterson served in the Minnesota Legislature before heading to Washington.

Like Peterson, Menze, 49, is an accountant. The Starbuck Republican collected and spent little in his second attempt to unseat Peterson. However, he said if he lost Tuesday's vote, he would be back to run against Peterson in two years.

In the campaign, Menze complained that Peterson allowed too much pork-barrel spending in the farm bill. Peterson was a key figure in writing the bill, which sets federal farm policy for years.

Peterson had been discussed as a federal agriculture secretary if Barack Obama won the presidency, but Peterson repeatedly said he would not accept such a post. He said he had more power as committee chairman.

The 7th takes in a territory ranging from Canada nearly to Iowa, and reaches east close to the Twin Cities.

Other Minnesota incumbents to win were:

- The dean of Minnesota's congressional delegation, Democrat Jim Oberstar, in the northeast and east-central area, easily out-distanced political unknown Michael Cummins. With 14 percent of precincts reporting, Oberstar had 26,601 votes (68 percent), compared to 12,471 for Cummins (32 percent).

- First-term Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, representing the southern counties, beat conservative Republican Brian Davis. With 39 percent of the vote counted, Walz led 52,215 (62 percent) to 27,119 (32 percent).

- Republican Rep. John Kline, representing the southern Twin Cities and counties to the south, turned back Steve Sarvi. With 49 percent of precincts reporting, Kline had 72,490 votes (59 percent) to Sarvi's 72,490 (41 percent).

Two Twin Cities Democratic representatives, Betty McCollum of St. Paul and Keith Ellison of Minneapolis, were declared easy winners early in the night.

Oberstar never expected much of a challenge from Cummins.

The longest-serving Minnesota congressman, in office since 1975, Oberstar is chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

Oberstar, 74, lives in his hometown of Chisholm. Despite his rural Minnesota background, he has a degree from the College of Europe and taught in Haiti before working in the U.S. House from 1963 to 1974.

Oberstar never expected much of a challenge from Cummins.

The longest-serving Minnesota congressman, in office since 1975, Oberstar is chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

Oberstar, 74, lives in his hometown of Chisholm. Despite his rural Minnesota background, he has a degree from the College of Europe and taught in Haiti before working in the U.S. House from 1963 to 1974.

He rose to become the top transportation congressman by spending years in the trenches.

Cummins, 45, of Brook Park was a late-arriving candidate in an area not known for backing Republicans.

The 8th comprises all of northeastern Minnesota, including Duluth, but also reaches into north-central and east-central Minnesota, going to the northern Twin Cities suburbs on the south.

Walz, 44, had a successful first term in the House.

He was elected president of his congressional class when he took office early last year. The teacher and long-time National Guard member has been an outspoken opponent of President Bush's Iraqi policy.

Walz is known as a hard worker in Washington and often was mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. However, he early on said he wanted to remain in the House and never wavered.

He is a Nebraska native who lives in Mankato, where he taught before going to Washington.

Davis, 50, is a Mayo Clinic doctor in Rochester. Making his first run for public office, the most-mentioned thing in his campaign is what he sees as a need to increase off-shore oil drilling.

The 1st Congressional District stretches all across southern Minnesota's lower two to three tiers of counties.

It was a military battle in Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District.

Incumbent Kline of Lakeville is known for being a former Marine who carried the "football," a case containing nuclear missile launch codes the president.

Kline is a conservative, especially on tax and budget issues.

Kline is finishing his third House term.

Sarvi is in the Army National Guard after serving in the active Army and the Army Reserves. And he is former Watertown mayor.

The 2nd covers southern Twin Cities suburbs and rural counties to the south.

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