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Retired Air Force officer seeks to unseat U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson in Minnesota

EAST GRAND FORKS -- A retired Air Force officer from Karlstad, Minn., will challenge longtime Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson in November. Dave Hughes, the Republican-endorsed candidate for the Minnesota Seventh Congressional District race...

EAST GRAND FORKS -- A retired Air Force officer from Karlstad, Minn., will challenge longtime Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson in November.

Dave Hughes, the Republican-endorsed candidate for the Minnesota Seventh Congressional District race, defeated Amanda Lynn Hinson in Tuesday’s primary election. Hughes garnered almost 59 percent of the ballots with 8,771 votes to Hinson’s 41 percent, or 6,104 votes, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website.

Hughes saw high vote margins in northwestern Minnesota against Hinson, who runs a small business as a writer and communication specialist from Long Prairie. Hughes pulled in at least 65 percent of the vote in Kittson, Marshall, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake and Roseau counties.

Hughes describes himself as a constitutional conservative who wants to “dramatically” reduce the size of government, including by eliminating five federal departments. He works at Grand Forks (N.D.) Air Force Base for General Atomics as an unmanned aerial systems instructor.

In a post thanking her supporters on her campaign’s website, Hinson said “this district is safely Democratic for Congress.”

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“This campaign is on hold for now; but for those who made their voices heard, the fight has just begun,” she added.

The winner of November’s election will represent a wide swath of western Minnesota that stretches from the Canadian border almost to Iowa. Peterson, who has been in Congress since 1991, defeated Republican challenger Torrey Westrom with 54 percent of the vote in 2014.

Peterson’s campaign manager, Allison Myhre, said the congressman didn’t know much about Hughes and declined to comment Wednesday. Hughes didn’t return a voicemail left on his cell phone Wednesday afternoon.

All election results are considered unofficial until the Minnesota State Canvassing Board meets on Tuesday and certifies them.

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