Is the DFL dead in rural Minnesota?

As far back as when I headed MPR News’ political unit in the ’90s, I’ve found Rep. Collin Peterson’s relationship with his own party to be among the more fascinating storylines in Minnesota politics.

At national and local conventions, you never heard his name uttered; he rarely appeared in person to schmooze with the powerbrokers of the DFL.

I often wondered why he was in the DFL at all.

The Washington Post’s interview with Peterson this week left out that question, which seems rather obvious since Peterson made clear he and the Democratic Party no longer have anything in common.

He’s one of only nine people in Congress sent back to Washington from a district that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Peterson lamented the death of the rural Democrat, abandoned by a party now run by DFLers from the cities, thanks to gerrymandering, he says.

And he says there may be little Democrats can do to save themselves.

Well, I don’t know if they can. What’s happened is the Republicans have been smart. They’ve spent a lot of money redistricting and everything, getting control of these governorships and statehouses.

So they packed all the Democrats into districts, very Democratic districts. What that’s done is made our party urban, more liberal, and so those people are doing what their constituents want. But that’s not what my constituents want.

I don’t know how you change that. There’s hardly anybody left like me in the Democratic Party in Congress. These districts have been so gerrymandered that, in most of them, a Democrat can’t win. Somebody like me trying to start off today, he’d never get endorsed. Because I’m too conservative.

So it’s a problem. Pushing gun control drives people [in my district] crazy, gay marriage, abortion, deficit spending, you name it. All of that stuff adds up to be a problem for Democrats.

Minnesota Democratic leaders have written the rural voter off, Peterson says.

“Some of the people in my caucus, some of the people in the state party in Minnesota have basically said, ‘We don’t want to deal with these guys because they’re too conservative,’ or ‘We don’t agree with them on social issues.’”

That makes them bigots, a large number of people commenting on the Washington Post website concluded, showing exactly why the the future of the DFL in rural Minnesota is grim.

Let’s start here – these antique bigots just happen to live in areas that are overly represented in electoral college votes. More Americans voted the opposite way…

May this group of ppl die off soon…

There may yet be a way to reestablish the party in rural parts of Minnesota. But wishing the death of people who live there probably isn’t it.