By STEVE KARNOWSKI Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach is running for the GOP nomination to challenge Minnesota’s most senior member of Congress in western Minnesota’s increasingly Republican 7th District.

Fischbach, who served in the Minnesota Senate for 21 years, announced her run in a statement Monday night.

President Donald Trump carried the 7th by 31 points in 2016, making it the most pro-Trump district currently represented by a Democrat. Fischbach faulted the incumbent, Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, for voting against Trump on issues including a border wall.

“Unlike Peterson, I will work with President Trump to secure our borders, build the wall, fight against the Democrats’ socialist agenda, and keep America great,” she said in her announcement.

Peterson, who has been popular with farmers as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, is serving his 15th term representing the district that stretches from the Canadian border deep into southwestern Minnesota. The conservative Blue Dog Democrat from Detroit Lakes traditionally announces whether he’ll run again in January or February of an election year.
Also seeking the GOP nomination is Dave Hughes, a civilian drone pilot instructor and retired Air Force major from Karlstad, who is making his third run for the seat. Peterson beat him by 4 percentage points in 2018 and 5 points in 2016.

Fischbach became lieutenant governor through an unusual series of political chess moves. She was president of the Minnesota Senate before Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton appointed then-Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to the U.S. Senate in 2018 to succeed Al Franken. Under the state constitution, the Senate president becomes lieutenant governor if that post becomes empty.

But Fischbach resisted taking the new office immediately because it would have cost Republicans their one-vote Senate majority. She didn’t resign from the Senate and take the oath as lieutenant governor until after the 2018 legislative session. She served until Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and his administration took office in January.

Her husband is Scott Fischbach, executive director of the state’s largest anti-abortion group, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.

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