WILLMAR — Torrey Westrom, a Republican state senator from Elbow Lake, received the Republican endorsement Saturday and will challenge U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson for Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District seat.
“It’s time for change in Washington, D.C.,” Westrom said at the 7th District convention in Willmar. “You don’t change the direction without changing who is at the table.”
Westrom is currently a state senator for eight counties in western Minnesota. He served in the Minnesota House from 1997 to 2012 before being elected in to the State Senate in 2012. He is an attorney and small business owner and is married with three children.
The candidate was blinded in a farm-related car accident when he was 14 years old. His family operated a dairy farm in the Willmar area until he was a teenager and then returned to the family farm in the Elbow Lake area, he said Saturday.
Westrom considers himself to be David against Peterson’s Goliath. Peterson has won re-election handily in the past, even as Republicans have garnered support in other offices in the district.
In 2012, Mitt Romney carried the district in the presidential election, but Peterson claimed 60 percent of the vote against Willmar Republican Lee Byberg.
Westrom says he has Republicans who had previously backed Peterson joining his camp and who are willing to back his campaign. He’s got volunteers to drive him, and fly him if necessary, around the district that stretches from the Canadian border to Lincoln County and east to Sibley County.
“We will match him, with airplanes when needed,” Westrom said. Peterson, an accountant, is also a pilot who flies his own airplane to traverse the district.
The Republican candidate said he will focus on two key issues, that the national debt is rising, now $17.5 trillion, and that Peterson continues to vote to raise the debt ceiling, and on Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act. Westrom called it the “unaffordable care act” and said that is a complicated mandate and a tax scheme.