Republicans Aim to Flip Minnesota Blue-Dog Democrat’s House Seat

(Bloomberg Businessweek) — Representative Collin Peterson’s reelection campaign got a call this summer about some trouble downstate in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District. Farmers supporting the 15-term Democratic congressman, who chairs the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, had put Peterson placards up along a stretch of highway. The problem, according to the worried campaign volunteer, was that they were sitting next to signs for President Donald Trump.

“What do you mean, a problem?” an aide asked the volunteer, according to Peterson’s retelling of the conversation. “How do you think he gets elected?”

The exchange sums up the question at the core of this closely watched race. Peterson may be a Democrat. But he’s pro-gun rights and pro-life, and a founding member of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition. “At one time there were a lot of people like me” in Congress, he says. “I’m the only pro-life Democrat left. I’m the only NRA A+ Democrat left.”

So far, his social and fiscal conservatism has helped him fend off Republican challengers as his largely rural district in Minnesota has gone deep red. Trump swept the district by 31 points four years ago, making this the most Republican House district in America still represented by a Democrat. Will enough Trump voters split their tickets this time around and send Peterson back to Washington? Republicans are betting no. They see 2020 as their moment to flip the seat.

Peterson has his most formidable competitor in 30 years in Michelle Fischbach, a former Minnesota lieutenant governor and the first woman president of the state senate, who’s been endorsed by Trump. She’s hoping that endorsement and her emphasis on low taxes, border security, law and order, and other conservative issues will help her overcome the challenge of going up against a veteran House Agriculture Committee member in a farm-heavy district.

“She’s raising money. She knows how to run a campaign, and she’s viewed as a better financial investment by outside donors than previous challengers have been,” says Kathryn Pearson, an associate professor of political science at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Campaign analysts at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rate the race a toss-up.

Fischbach, 54, is touting a “fresh outlook.” She says voters “are tired of Collin Peterson. They are tired of Nancy Pelosi.” And she says Peterson “only votes with Republicans when it makes him look good in the district.” She’s also sought to tie the 76-year-old congressman to a “socialist” Democratic agenda. Peterson, who voted against impeaching Trump and who enjoys hunting bears and deer on his farm when not on Capitol Hill, says attempts to portray him as aligned with progressives such as Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez show that Republicans “have nothing else than to make up stuff.”

The two candidates aren’t far apart on fundraising, with Peterson taking in $1.23 million from January 2019 through July 22, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Fischbach brought in $1 million over the same period. She has significantly outspent Peterson, however.

But

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House bill takes aim at FAA delegation of oversight to Boeing

House lawmakers unveiled bipartisan legislation to reform aircraft manufacturing in the wake of the Boeing Co. 737 Max disasters, an effort that would partially undo efforts over decades to streamline aviation-industry approvals.

The measure released on Monday would tighten the Federal Aviation Administration’s control of programs at Boeing and other companies that allow employees to sign off on aircraft designs and would also require an expert panel to review Boeing’s safety culture.

The missteps that led to crashes on the Max “alarmed and outraged” lawmakers, said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), who is chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The bill is an attempt to “meaningfully address the gaps in the regulatory system for certifying aircraft and adopt critical reforms that will improve public safety and ensure accountability at all levels going forward.”

The bill is also backed by the committee’s ranking Republican, Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, and the leaders of the aviation subcommittee, increasing its chances of passing.

There appears to be strong support by members of both parties for at least some action, but contentious preelection politics and disputes over what such legislation should include could hinder passage this year. It’s also supported by several unions, including those representing FAA’s engineers and inspectors.

The measure was prompted by two crashes of the best-selling 737 Max that led to its grounding in March 2019.

The legislation was released as the FAA and other global aviation regulators are nearing approvals to return the plane to service. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson plans to fly the plane this week in a demonstration meant to reassure the public.

Democrats on the House committee this month concluded an 18-month investigation into what went wrong on the 737 Max design, finding fault with engineering failures, deception by Boeing and insufficient oversight by the FAA.

A safety feature on the Max designed to ensure its controls felt the same as on earlier models went haywire in two crashes, repeatedly pushing down the jet’s nose into dives. Crashes off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018 and in Ethiopia in March 2019 that killed 346 people were blamed in part on the system.

The House legislation isn’t intended to end the controversial program that allows the FAA to deputize company employees to sign off on designs, but it gives the agency more authority over who companies pick for such duty.

That is a reversal of more than a decade of actions by Congress that directed the FAA to expand such programs. The aviation industry had argued before the Max crashes that it needed more authority to approve designs in order to remain competitive in other parts of the world.

The legislation would also require the adoption of better safety-management systems at manufacturers, ensure more realistic assumptions about pilot reactions to emergencies and mandate disclosure of flight-control systems that can alter a plane’s flight path.

Each of those was designed to address issues raised by multiple reviews after the crashes.

While the investigations into the two crashes

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House Bill Takes Aim at FAA’s Delegation to Boeing of Oversight

(Bloomberg) — House lawmakers unveiled bipartisan legislation to reform aircraft manufacturing in the wake of the Boeing Co. 737 Max disasters, an effort that would partially undo efforts over decades to streamline aviation-industry approvals.



a propeller plane sitting on top of a green airplane: RENTON, WA - MARCH 11: A Boeing 737 MAX 8 is pictured outside the factory on March 11, 2019 in Renton, Washington. Boeing's stock dropped today after an Ethiopian Airlines flight was the second deadly crash in six months involving the Boeing 737 Max 8, the newest version of its most popular jetliner. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)s


© Photographer: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
RENTON, WA – MARCH 11: A Boeing 737 MAX 8 is pictured outside the factory on March 11, 2019 in Renton, Washington. Boeing’s stock dropped today after an Ethiopian Airlines flight was the second deadly crash in six months involving the Boeing 737 Max 8, the newest version of its most popular jetliner. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)s

The measure released on Monday would tighten the Federal Aviation Administration’s control of programs at Boeing and other companies that allow employees to sign off on aircraft designs, and would also require an expert panel to review Boeing’s safety culture.

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The missteps that led to crashes on the Max “alarmed and outraged” lawmakers, said Representative Peter DeFazio, the Oregon Democrat who is chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The bill is an attempt to “meaningfully address the gaps in the regulatory system for certifying aircraft and adopt critical reforms that will improve public safety and ensure accountability at all levels going forward.”

The bill is also backed by the committee’s ranking Republican, Representative Sam Graves of Missouri, and the leaders of the aviation subcommittee, increasing its chances of passing.

Bipartisan Support

There appears to be strong support by members of both parties for at least some action, but contentious pre-election politics and disputes over what such legislation should include could hinder passage this year. It’s also supported by several unions, including those representing FAA’s engineers and inspectors.

The measure was prompted by two crashes of the best-selling 737 Max that led to its grounding in March 2019.

The legislation was released as the FAA and other global aviation regulators are nearing approvals to return the plane to service. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson plans to fly the plane this week in a demonstration meant to reassure the public.

Democrats on the House committee earlier this month concluded an 18-month investigation into what went wrong on the 737 Max design, finding fault with engineering failures, deception by Boeing and insufficient oversight by the FAA.

A safety feature on the Max designed to ensure its controls felt the same as on earlier models went haywire in two crashes, repeatedly pushing down the jet’s nose into dives. Crashes off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018 and in Ethiopia in March 2019 that killed 346 people were blamed in part on the system.

Earlier: Boeing Deception Alleged in Scathing Report on Max Crashes

The House legislation isn’t intended to end the controversial program that allows the FAA to deputize company employees to sign off on designs, but it gives the agency more authority over who companies pick for such duty.

That is a reversal of more than a decade of actions by Congress that directed the FAA to expand such programs. The aviation industry

Read more