UR: Seventh District Congressional Race Heats Up

This is an article I wrote for the campus newspaper at the University of Minnesota-Morris, The University Register, about the endorsement by the Republican Party of Lee Byberg to run against Congressman Collin Peterson. For those of you who may not be familiar with the guy, I recommend taking a few minutes to visit his campaign website – it’s something else. This article was published on April 15, 2010.


By Joshua P. Preston

With the party endorsement conventions over, when voters in the 7th Congressional District head to the polls on November 2, one of two men will end up representing them in Congress: either incumbent DFLer Collin Peterson or his GOP opponent Lee Byberg. Although Byberg is expected to have an uphill fight against Peterson who is seeking his 11th term in Congress with $676,000 on hand (Byberg’s cash-on-hand were not public at the time of this writing), political spectators are expecting an anti-incumbent backlash as Congress’ approval rating sinks, which may end up working in Byberg’s favor.

In conjunction with this, while Peterson often wins with nearly 65-70% of the popular vote, that margin may be smaller this year as some party activists feel alienated by Peterson’s “Blue-Dog” voting record, which includes his recent votes against health care and student loan reform.

“I know many of you are upset about my vote; I know many of you may not always agree with me – I know that and I hear you,” Peterson acknowledged shortly after receiving his party’s endorsement on Saturday, April 10, in Fergus Falls, “but now is the time to come together.”

Byberg, a political newcomer is the vice-president of operations for Life Science Innovations in Willmar, the parent company of the Willmar Poultry Company, and brings to the race ideas that show significant contrast with the more right-of-center Peterson. Calling for limited government and state’s rights, Byberg also seeks a strong national defense, educational choice and taxes that are “low, simple and just,” a message that will no doubt ring in the ears of the Tea Party movement that has its strongest roots in rural communities.

“We are living in an extra-ordinary time where America is at a cross-road,” Byberg writes on his campaign website, “To ensure continuation of the American Experience of liberty and progress, we must recommit ourselves to limited government, free enterprise and individual responsibility.” Citing his experience in South America because of his parents’ missionary work in Brazil and Paraguay while he was a child, Byberg writes, “Having lived with people deprived of liberty in other countries, my intellect and spirit is forged to champion the American Experience to a new generation of Minnesotans.”

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