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State Sen. Westrom considers running for Peterson seat

ST. PAUL — State Sen. Torrey Westrom promises a decision by year’s end about whether he will run for the U.S. House seat that has belonged to Collin Peterson since 1991.

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“I am giving it serious consideration,” the Elbow Lake Republican told Forum News Service on Thursday.

In recent elections, no one has come close to Peterson, a Detroit Lakes Democrat whose district encompasses almost all of western Minnesota. He has gained a reputation of being a moderate in a district that leans Republican.

Westrom, who for years has been discussed as a possible Peterson opponent, said he does not know if he has enough time to build a campaign that can upset the incumbent. “That’s the million-dollar question.”

In recent months, Peterson has sounded down on the House, mostly because of difficulty negotiating a new farm bill. He has told Forum News Service that he will not decide about seeking another term until early next year.

Washington Republicans are targeting Peterson.

Westrom, believed to be the first blind Minnesota legislator, said the biggest consideration he has in making a decision about whether to run is his family and business. He is a new lawyer and runs a real estate firm.

Problems in Washington are at “historic levels,” Westrom said, with new health care laws among the worst. He said he has not heard from anyone whose health insurance premiums have dropped after the laws changed.

“This Obamacare is an absolute mess,” he said, adding that the biggest problems may not yet be known.

Westrom served in the state House from 1997 until this year, when he began his Senate tenure. If he runs and loses, he still would retain his Senate seat.

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.