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State GOP launches ad campaign against Collin Peterson

Minnesota Deputy GOP Chairman Michael Brodkorb tells reporters Wednesday that U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson owes it to his western Minnesota constituents to hold public meetings. He also announced the party is airing anti-Peterson radio commercials.

ST. PAUL - Minnesota's Republican Party launches a radio advertising campaign against U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson on Thursday.

More than a dozen western Minnesota radio stations will carry the commercial saying that Democrat Peterson is out of touch on his House votes as well as criticizing his comment that a quarter of his constituents think the Bush administration worked with Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists.

Peterson said political extremists like those who believe in the terrorist-government connection can take over public meetings, saying that is a reason that he does not hold general town hall meetings.

"Really, Collin, 25 percent of your constituents are so out of touch they believe the U.S. government caused 9-11?" the commercial says. "So you won't hold town meetings? They're not out of touch. You are."

The commercial urges listeners to call Peterson and tell him he is out of touch.

Deputy Party Chairman Michael Brodkorb said the commercials will cost "five figures," but would not be more specific. He said it would be hard to be in Peterson's 7th congressional District and not hear the spots, which are scheduled to air Thursday through next week, although he left the option open for running them longer.

In a Monday statement, Peterson said that he apologizes to anyone offended by his "off-hand comment" about the Bush administration ties to terrorists. He is one of many members of Congress who have complained that people who have extreme views have hijacked town hall meetings so others cannot express opinions or ask questions.

The Washington-based Politico Web site quoted Peterson as saying: "Twenty-five percent of my people believe the Pentagon and (then-Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld were responsible for taking the twin towers down. That's why I don't do town meetings."

In a statement released after Republicans criticized him, Peterson said: "I certainly wasn't trying to make fun of anyone. What I was talking about was simply that there are the people in Minnesota's 7th district who have called me and talked to me about this question."

Peterson said he conducts forums on specific topics to prevent extremists from taking over meetings.

The GOP commercial criticizes Peterson's votes on several issues, saying they do not match the will of those in his western Minnesota district that stretches from Canada nearly to the Iowa border.

"I think it is pretty difficult for him to justify some of those votes," Brodkorb said, emphasizing a recent one in which Peterson voted for an anti-global warming measure. "A town hall meeting is an opportunity for him to explain his position."

Peterson says he made the global warming bill better for farmers, using his position as House Agriculture Committee chairman.

Brodkorb said he has received more than 100 calls since the Peterson Politico quote emerged Monday, the most interest he has seen in the 7th Congressional District.

Several high-profile Republicans are considering running against Peterson, Brodkorb said, refusing to name names. However, he said, current and past elected officials are among potential candidates.

Republicans have not been successful against Peterson, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress. He has served in the U.S. House since 1990, and since 1996 has received 65 percent to 72 percent of the vote in his elections every two years.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.