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7th District Republicans endorse Willmar businessman

WILLMAR -- Delegates at the Minnesota 7th District Republican Convention on Saturday in Moorhead endorsed Willmar businessman Lee Byberg for the congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson of Detroit Lakes.

Meanwhile, the 7th District DFL Party Convention on Saturday in Fergus Falls endorsed Peterson.

Byberg and Peterson will compete this fall for the seat representing the 7th District, which covers a large portion of western Minnesota from the Canadian border south as far as the Marshall area.

Byberg received 77 percent of the vote on the first ballot in a five-person race. Melva Larson of Bagley, Karen Nelson of Spicer, Glenn Menze of Starbuck and Ken Lucier of Clay County also sought endorsement from the Republicans.

"I want to congratulate my fellow candidates,'' Byberg said in a news release. "Any one of them would have done a fine job of representing this district. I am honored to have been chosen. This is a time where unity, resolve and ability will provide the setting necessary to achieve victory at the November general election.''

Byberg is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management with a master's of business administration in finance. He is vice president of operations for Life Science Innovations of Willmar, parent company to Willmar Poultry Company, Epitopix, an animal vaccine company, and 14 other subsidiary companies.

Byberg previously worked as senior economics consultant for Phillips Petroleum Company, Stavanger, Norway, and Coopers & Lybrand of Minneapolis. Byberg is married and has three sons.

A reception for Byberg will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday during a tea party event on the corner of First Street and 19th Avenue Southwest in Willmar. A freewill donation of $3 for adults and a food item for the local food shelf are requested.

Byberg encouraged everyone to attend the event.

"It is fitting that we begin this journey on Tax Day when we are clearly reminded how oversized, overly intrusive, and contentious our federal government has become,'' he said. "It is time that the citizens of this great nation come together and renew our pledge for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. We can have our differences, but they must be discussed with respect and civility. We are all in this together."

Rollie Nissen, Kandiyohi County Republican Party chair, said Byberg's "knowledge and understanding of the American system are needed at this time for our country.''

Byberg has raised about $90,000 toward what he hopes will be a $1 million campaign war chest in his bid to unseat Peterson, who is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

State DFL Chair Brian Melendez said in a news release that Peterson "has been an outspoken and fearless leader for greater Minnesota, looking out for our nation's economic health, standing up for his constituents, and delivering real results.''

Melendez said Peterson, as the leader of the Agriculture Committee, has worked hard on issues important to Minnesotans.

"In the past two years alone, Peterson has been an integral part of historic legislation, crafting a farm bill that ensured a strong agricultural economy, promoted conservation, and provided millions of families and children with the food assistance they depend on during these difficult economic times,'' Melendez said.

"Peterson has worked to reform the nation's futures markets, promote the development of renewable energy, and improve our food-safety system, and the DFL Party is proud to support him for re-election,'' Melendez said.

-- With reporting from the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.