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State Sen. Torrey Westrom to challenge Collin Peterson

WASHINGTON — Peterson, a Democrat, has long held his district despite its Republican lean.

WASHINGTON — Republican state Sen. Torrey Westrom will announce his challenge to Rep. Collin Peterson on Thursday.

Westrom, an attorney and 16-year veteran of the State Capitol, will kick off his campaign with events in Moorhead and North Elbow Lake. He’s been considering a run for a while: He told the St. Cloud Times last month that he would announce his intentions before the end of the year, saying he’s heard a lot of complaints about President Obama’s health care law.

Peterson, a moderate Democrat in his 12th term, has won re-election easily for several cycles despite the 7th District’s Republican tendencies. He won 60 percent of the vote there last year even while Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the district with 53.6 percent. National Republicans have long looked to target Peterson’s seat, but Republican candidates — most recently businessman Lee Byberg, who ran in 2012 and 2010 — have come up well short. 

Peterson, 69, is the ranking Democrat — and former chairman — on the House Agriculture Committee. He hasn’t formally announced he’ll seek re-election next year, but House Democratic leadership, including Nancy Pelosi, recently held a fundraiser to boost his campaign.

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