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Fischbach strengthens Republican hold on 7th District

Republican Michelle Fischbach was running for a second term in Congress. Challengers Jill Abahsain and Travis "Bull" Johnson told supporters during their campaigns that they believed Fischbach was vulnerable.

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Minnesota's 7th Congressional District candidates are seen in this composite image. From left: DFL candidate Jill Abahsain; incumbent Michelle Fischbach, a Republican; and Legal Marijuana Now candidate Travis "Bull" Johnson.
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WILLMAR, Minn. — Republicans firmed up their hold on Minnesota’s western 7th Congressional District.

Republican Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach holds a lead over her two opponents, DFL candidate Jill Abahsain and Legal Marijuana Now candidate Travis “Bull” Johnson. Fischbach held 66.5% of the vote as of 11:50 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, as compared to 28% for Abahsain and 5.3% for Johnson. About 1.8 million votes had been cast.

Fischbach was running for a second term in Congress. She wrestled the state's westernmost district from DFL control two years ago in an upset victory over Rep. Collin Peterson, who had represented it for 30 years.

Michelle Fischbach 2022.jpg
Michelle Fischbach
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Fischbach campaigned as a “proven conservative” in the rural district that has voted Republican in recent election cycles. The district supported Donald Trump over President Joe Biden by a nearly two-to-one margin in the 2020 election.

Trump endorsed Fischbach in this 2022 campaign.

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Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach watches election results come in at the 7th Congressional District Republican Party’s election night watch party event on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at Midtown Tavern in Moorhead.
Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

Challengers Abahsain and Johnson told supporters during their campaigns that they believed Fischbach was vulnerable. Abahsain, who once worked for Planned Parenthood, supports abortion rights and highlighted that issue in campaign events. Fischbach has long campaigned as an anti-abortion candidate and her spouse, Scott, is president of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.

Johnson said he was anti-abortion, but as a strict constitutionalist, said he would not favor federal action on abortion either pro or con.

Jill Abahsain
Jill Abahsain
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Abahsain also raised election integrity in her challenge to Fischbach, pointing out at campaign stops that her rival’s first vote in Congress was against certifying the electoral results in 2020. Fischbach defended her vote, stating that she voted against the presidential electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania because “allegations of irregularities and fraud were too voluminous to ignore.”

Johnson said he would not have voted the way Fischbach did when the three candidates met for their only debate of the campaign on Nov. 1. The debate served to highlight the partisan divide among the candidates over issues including the economy, abortion, the farm bill and student debt relief.

Fischbach, 57, and her husband, Scott, live near Paynesville. She serves on the House committees on agriculture, judiciary and rules. She was appointed as the 49th lieutenant governor in Minnesota. She was the first female president of the Minnesota Senate, where she served from 1996 through 2018. As a member of Congress, she receives an annual salary of $174,000.

Abahsain, 68, was making her first bid for Congress. She ran unsuccessfully for Minnesota Senate against Torrey Westrom in 2020. She lives in Sauk Centre, where she has served as director of the historical society. She and her late husband lived for 20 years in the Middle East, where she was a newspaper columnist. After her husband’s death, she returned to Minnesota and worked with Planned Parenthood and also as an English instructor to adult workers in meat processing plants in central Minnesota.

Travis "Bull" Johnson
Travis "Bull" Johnson
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Johnson, 51, is a native of Louisiana who was also making his first bid for Congress. He and his wife, Terri, live near Crookston where he raises livestock and is enrolled at the University of Minnesota in Crookston. He served in the U.S. Army from 1991 to 1997 and enlisted in the Texas National Guard in 2004. He was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005. He transferred back to active duty until retiring in 2018 as a sergeant first class and moving back to Minnesota.

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The election, strikes and the abortion debate made headlines in Minnesota this year.

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at tcherveny@wctrib.com or by phone at 320-214-4335.
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