The criticism of U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, according to his political opponents, is the longtime holder of Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District seat is too liberal for a populace that appears to be changing from Democratic blue to Republican red.

That transformation coupled with Peterson’s affiliation with the Democratic Party is why, according to former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, the district should dump Peterson and elect Fischbach, a Republican who vows a dedicated conservative view.

However, voters in the district should look past claims that Peterson is dedicated to a liberal agenda and elect him to another term, not just because of a voting record that tends to be more moderate than advertised but because of what Peterson and his experience bring to western Minnesota.

According to the website FiveThirtyEight.com, Peterson has been among the most moderate Democrats during the last two sessions of Congress. In the 115th Congress, he voted in line with Republicans – and thus President Donald Trump – 67% of the time. In the 116th Congress, he voted with Republicans 25% of the time. Both are among the highest rates among House Democrats. In January, he was named a winner of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship.

Notably, Peterson opposed the impeachment of Trump.

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It shows Peterson, who has held the seat for three decades, either personally believes in moderate politics or understands his electorate seeks a moderate representative. Either way, that kind of moderation is exactly what’s needed in the purple-hued Seventh District.

More important is what Peterson has done for the district and what he still can do if elected to a 16th term. Specifically, as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, he wields great influence for the ag community in western Minnesota.

When, during an interview earlier this year, Fischbach was asked if she even remotely knew the current price of soybeans, she couldn’t say. Certainly, not everyone in these parts will know the answer – the current price, by the way, hovers around $10.20 per bushel – but in agriculture politics, the price of soybeans and the knowledge of ag issues matters. In western Minnesota, agriculture is king and voters should back anyone who understands it, supports it and improves it.

Peterson is endorsed by the Minnesota Farm Bureau, the United Farm Workers and the National Farmers Union. Representatives of the sugar beet industry – so important in these parts – last year formed a political action committee with the express purpose of raising funds to help get Peterson reelected.

Peterson has won a slew of ag-related awards, including recent honors from wheat, sorghum and milk producers. He was named Legislator of the Year by the Agriculture Retailers Association.

Fischbach, a former state lawmaker and lieutenant governor – she took over from 2018 to 2019 when previous Lt. Gov. Tina Smith was named to fill a Senate vacancy – doesn't have Peterson’s experience.

Yes, western Minnesota appears to be turning red. As it does, it needs a moderate voice, and that voice must have experience with ever-important ag issues.

Peterson is the best candidate to represent the Seventh District.

This endorsement represents the opinion of Forum Communications Co. management.