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Willmar businessman to challenge Peterson in 7th Dist.

April 11, 2010
By Per Peterson

Republicans in the 7th Congressional District endorsed Willmar businessman Lee Byberg to challenge Democrat incumbent Rep. Collin Peterson.

Byberg was endorsed on the first ballot at Saturday's 7th Congressional District Republican Convention and will face off in November against Peterson, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

Peterson was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990. He is seeking his 10th term in office.

The 7th District includes most of western Minnesota, including all of Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Redwood and Yellow Medicine counties in southwest Minnesota.

"He's very personable," Southwest Minnesota State University Political Science professor David Sturrock said of Byberg. "He has a compelling story and the delegates clearly liked that. He ran by far the best campaign and had more impact than the other four. It wasn't a surprise he was going to win and win big."

Byberg garnered 77 percent of the vote at the convention, easily beating out the four other candidates. The former general manager of the Willmar Poultry Company is now a vice president at its parent company, Life-Science Innovations.

Peterson figures to be difficult to unseat; in 2008, he pulled in 70 percent of the vote. Peterson voted against President Barack Obama's health care legislation and stirred up controversy for his vote for cap-and-trade legislation last year.

"I recognize the challenge ahead," Byberg told the Independent on Sunday. "I believe Minnesota farmers are looking for dialogue to define how we want farming to look 10 years from now. It will be a lot of hard work to wean farming operations from big government to less regulation and more market principles."

Byberg said if the world needs to double its energy supply in 20 years America should lead the way, but not through cap-and-trade, which, he said, is more of a European-style model of government.

"In America, we have the expertise to be energy independent, to be able to provide safe and affordable energy in moving forward."

Byberg's family is from Norway. He was born in Chicago, Ill., and raised in Norway and South American, Sturrock said. Byberg came back to the United States when he was 18 and earned his MBA in finance from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.

In a straw poll in a seven-candidate race for Minnesota GOP nomination for governor, Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, led the field with 170 votes, or 66 percent, followed by Tom Emmer of Delano's 75 votes, or more than 29 percent.

Democrats endorse Meffert, Powers

ST. PAUL (AP) - State Democrats have endorsed two candidates in a pair of suburban congressional districts.

In the 3rd District, Saturday's endorsement went to Jim Meffert, the head of the statewide parent-teachers association. He's challenging psychiatrist Maureen Hackett in a bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, a first-term House member. The district covers the western Minneapolis suburbs. Meanwhile, 2nd District Democrats in Chanhassen have picked construction contractor Dan Powers over former state Rep. Shelley Madore.

Powers and Madore are competing to run against U.S. Rep. John Kline. He's seeking a fifth term in a conservative swath of southern Twin Cities suburbs and towns to the south.



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