WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Minnesota Republican Party has launched a radio ad campaign in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District against Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., calling him “out of touch” with his constituents.
“This is only the start of a campaign against Peterson,” said Minnesota GOP Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb. “And a renewed focus on this seat, the likes of which, Collin Peterson has not experienced before.”
Although Brodkorb would not specify how much the Minnesota Republican Party had spent on the ads, he said the price was in the “five-figure” range.
The GOP criticism began this week after Peterson told POLITICO that he doesn’t “do town meetings” because 25 percent of his constituents believe the Pentagon and Rumsfeld were responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Peterson later released a statement calling the comment “off-handed” and “sincerely” apologizing.
And Peterson responded this afternoon to the ad campaign against him. “On Monday I apologized for my off-the-cuff remarks on this matter, and I continue to stand by that statement,” Peterson said in another statement. “As for the Republican Party’s new ad I think they can say whatever they want. I’m guessing that my constituents are more interested in cutting the deficit and getting spending under control, and getting a health care bill that works for them and that we can afford.”
The ad, which can be listened to here, attempts to paint Peterson as a liberal by connecting him with wasteful spending and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on issues like climate change and health care.
Peterson, however, is a founding member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats and has “ranked for years among the 10 Democrats voting most often against the majority of their party,” according to Congressional Quarterly’s “Politics in America.”
Recently, he has bucked his party on the economic stimulus package, the “omnibus” spending bill, and last year’s bank bailout
And, while Peterson did vote for the climate change bill, which recently passed the House, he also vexed Democratic leadership by pushing for more perks and safeguards for agriculture and forestry.
(A side note: The GOP ad also says that the “new energy tax will cost the average household $890 per year.”
(But that figure is a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate that does not account for the free distribution of greenhouse gas allowances and other policies designed to lower the cost of the program. According to a June 19 report, the CBO estimates that the legislation would actually cost an average of $175 per household every year.
(Both Republicans and Democrats, however, have called the CBO estimates incomplete. Republicans have said that they do not account for all the costs, while Democrats have argued that they do not include the economic benefits that would be realized from reducing greenhouse gases and slowing climate change.
(The point being this: The $890 mentioned in the ad is based on an incomplete estimate of an old version of the bill.)
The Minnesota GOP has promised to run a competitive Republican challenger against Peterson in 2010, but it could be an uphill battle. While the 7th District has been represented by Republicans in the past, and even went for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election, Peterson has won with more than 65 percent of the vote since his narrower re-election victories in ’92 and ’94.