Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A tale of two Democratic representatives: Peterson narrowly wins in Minn.; Rahall loses in W.Va.

One long-serving Democrat survived the GOP-dominance at the polls on Tuesday, while voters ousted another. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) narrowly won his 13th-term, while Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) was defeated after serving for 38 years. Peterson's work with the Farm Bill likely led to his victory, while coal advocates played a significant role in defeating Rahall.

Peterson fought off state Sen. Torrey Westrom "in a race too close to call until well after midnight," Allison Sherry reports for the Star Tribune. "In the Seventh District, which hugs the state’s western flank down the North and South Dakota borders, the district has swayed more red than blue in other contests: Voters reliably prefer the Republican nominee for president and governor but keep sending Peterson, who votes with the Democrats only 68 percent of the time, back to Washington."

When votes were finally tallied on Wednesday morning, Peterson had 54.2 percent of the vote, and Westrom had 45.7 percent, Sherry writes. "Peterson was helped because of his status as the most powerful Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee. He is responsible for a number of components in the farm bill that benefited local farmers—especially sugar beet operations." (Star Tribune photo by David Joles: Peterson gets a hug from wife Mary after winning re-election)

In a state where the coal business has been depleted, Rep. Rahall, "who represents the reddest district of any House Democrat, touted his seniority in Congress and his independence from party leadership," Tarini Parti reports for Politico. "The incumbent has defied political calculus and served in Congress for more than three decades in a district former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won by 33 points."

But tides turned during this year's election. Rahall only received 45 percent of the vote, while challenger Evan Jenkins received 55 percent of the vote, Parti writes. "Republicans repeatedly tied Rahall to President Barack Obama and the administration’s energy policies, which are highly unpopular in the coal-friendly state. They flooded the airwaves attacking Rahall for going against the interests of the district." While Democrats said that wouldn't be an issue in the race, Rahall, who voted in favor of federal health reform, was soundly defeated. (Read more)

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