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State Sen. Westrom jumps into race with U.S. Rep. Peterson

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Lawyer and State Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, is announcing his bid to unseat 12-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn. Westrom plans events Thursday in his hometown and Moorhead.

Westrom will be the first GOP challenger in the race, although Montevideo businessman Scott Van Binsbergen has long considered mounting a campaign.

Westrom last month told the St. Cloud Times that he was considering the bid, noting that he is hearing a lot of objections from people in the district to President Barack Obama's health care initiative.

“Obamacare is an unbelievably toxic issue on people’s minds,” Westrom said.

Forum Communications notes that Peterson hasn't been in close race in 20 years. Peterson is the top Democratic House negotiator on a team of lawmakers in Congress who are trying to hammer out a compromise on a farm bill, long stalled at the Capitol. “The 7th District Republican Party members will have to consider their options as I’m hearing there are others who are looking at getting in the race,” Peterson said. “Frankly, I’m just concentrating on getting the farm bill done.”

In an interview with Forum, Westrom talked about a dysfunctional Congress, which he said needs a new set of political players. He told Forum he plans to run on a platform of “the need for a smaller, less-intrusive government.”

Westrom started his legislative career in the Minnesota House in 1997 and was elected to the Senate last year. The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library notes that he is the first known blind member of the Legislature, the Star Tribune reports. Forum notes that Westrom lost his sight in a car accident in 1987 at age 14. He says he also intends to fight for people with disabilities, Forum reports.

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