One of the last remaining pro-life Democrats in Congress won a primary victory in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District on Tuesday.
In contrast to the struggles faced by pro-life Democrat candidates in other parts of the country, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) defeated two primary challengers in the August 11 election, garnering 75 per cent of the vote. He will face Republican Michelle Fischbach, who is the state’s former lieutenant governor, in the general election in November.
Peterson, who was first elected to Congress in 1990, narrowly won reelection in 2018 by a vote of 52 to 48 per cent. The 7th District has been targeted by Republican campaigners, and is currently labelled a toss-up for November. The district voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.
Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) President Kristen Day told CNA that her organization was “delighted” at Peterson’s win.
“He is an unusual species: a Democratic representative in a deep red district that overwhelmingly voted for Trump in 2016. He has an impressive record representing his constituents, especially farmers,” said Day.
Day pointed to Peterson’s victory as proof that “pro-life Democrats are on the rise,” and are “tired of being silenced, marginalized, and pressured to violate our conscience on a matter of human rights.” She said that DFLA is working to find candidates on local levels “who feel emboldened to speak out” about abortion.
“Stopping abortion extremism is urgent,” said Day. “Now is the time to save our Party.”
Peterson’s victory in the primary comes months after fellow pro-life Democrat, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) was defeated in a hotly contested primary battle against challenger Marie Newman in March. Newman made her support for abortion rights the centerpiece of her campaign.
Peterson and Lipinski were friendly during their time in Congress; in 2015, Peterson gave Lipinski his extra ticket to Pope Francis’ address. With Lipinksi’s primary loss, there are now fewer than five Democrats in Congress who identify as pro-life.
Day told CNA that she wishes to see the Biden campaign reach out to pro-life Democrats, who she says number 21 million people.
“Vice President Biden, as a Catholic, should be willing to at least ask for our vote,” said Day. “Senator [Kamala] Harris, as a Baptist, should take the lead of her congregation, which encourages its members to ‘engage in meaningful dialogue on abortion with openness and Christian compassion.’”
The 2016 Democratic Party Platform included, for the first time, a plank advocating for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment prevents the use of taxpayer funding for abortions.
Biden counted himself among the bipartisan supporters of the Hyde Amendment for over 40 years before switching his view on the issue overnight in June 2019.