By Per Peterson
Michelle Fischbach did something last Tuesday that no one could accomplish in 30 years: beat Collin Peterson.
Fischbach, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate running for Congress in western Minnesota’s 7th District, defeated Peterson by nearly 50,000 votes, garnering more than 53% of the vote. She did well in Lyon County, too, riding another Republican wave, with 54% of county voters choosing her over the longtime Blue Dog Democrat.
In Tracy, she won 53% of the vote. The only Lyon County city she didn’t win was Taunton. She did say that she was a “little surprised” that Trump didn’t win Minnesota last week, but said her campaign worked hard to send their message to voters this summer.
“We put together a strong organization and raised the resources that we needed get the message out,” Fischbach told the Tracy Area Headlight Herald a day after her big win. “We wanted to make sure people understood what the Democrats and Collin Peterson were all about. Our strong organization and resources are things that were lacking in the campaigns before us.”
And campaigns, there have been plenty.
Going back to 1990, Peterson had won 10 straight elections. His tenure lasted so long that on two occasions he defeated a challenger in back-to-back elections (Lee Byberg in 2010 and 2012 and Dave Hughes in 2016 and 2018). Peterson’s margin of victory ranged from 45 percentage points in 2008 to less than five percentage points in the last election. Those results speak to Peterson’s foothold in the region, but Fischbach changed the game last week — in the district as a whole and in Lyon County.
“Other than when we were shut down, we spent a lot of time traveling the district,” Fischbach said. “Even during the shutdown, we spent a lot of time on the phones, reaching out to voters. Our message resonated, and people voted for us. We really just reached out, talked to folks and made sure we got to everyone we could in the district.”
Fischbach, who lives just outside of Paynesville, said this campaign was different than any others because of COVID-19.
See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.