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Published February 24, 2012, 05:02 PM

State Sen. Hoffman to Challenge Collin Peterson

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — First-term state Sen. Gretchen Hoffman said Friday that she will seek the Republican nomination to challenge longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson.

By: Patrick Condon, Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — First-term state Sen. Gretchen Hoffman said Friday that she will seek the Republican nomination to challenge longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson.

The vocal conservative from Vergas said GOP activists first approached her months ago about taking on Peterson in northwestern Minnesota's 7th District. Hoffman, a registered nurse and business owner, officially jumped into the race three days after the state's once-per-decade redistricting process threw her into the same state district as a fellow Republican senator.

"Collin Peterson has been there 20 years, and he's taking votes I don't think represent the district and the sensibilities of rural Minnesota," Hoffman told The Associated Press. "Once things ended up like they did with redistricting, I decided now is the time we needed some changes in Washington, so that's why I decided to get in."

Republican Lee Byberg, who lost to Peterson in 2010, also is running. Hoffman said she would seek the GOP endorsement but would not say if she'd run in the state's primary election in August without it.

The 7th District covers much of western Minnesota, including the cities of Moorhead, Alexandria, Fergus Falls, Crookston, Willmar and Marshall. Peterson, a conservative Democrat first elected in 1990, has typically been reelected by wide margins despite the conservative cast of much of the district.

A Peterson spokeswoman did not immediately return a call Friday seeking comment. Peterson said earlier this week, after redistricting maps were released, that he would seek reelection. His district's makeup did not drastically change, though it now reaches a bit further south to add Pipestone, Murray and Cottonwood counties.

Hoffman, first elected to the Legislature in 2010, said she would campaign on shrinking the size and cost of the federal government and repealing President Obama's healthcare law.

Hoffman, 54, is the chief Senate sponsor of a bill that passed the Senate on Friday that would greatly expand the circumstances in which deadly force would be acceptable in the name of self-defense.

She also earned headlines last year when she agreed at the request of the Senate Ethics Committee to apologize to a Democratic state senator for insulting her on the social networking site Twitter in the midst of a Senate floor debate.

Hoffman and her husband Virgil have three adult sons.

The redistricting process put Hoffman into the same state Senate district as fellow Republican Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, who said Friday he would run for reelection.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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