Game changer?

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When a 15-term incumbent Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives has his seat go from "Leans Dem" to "Toss Up" for 2020, something earth shattering has taken place.

Former state senator and lieutenant governor Michelle Fischbach announced Monday that she will challenge a Democrat stalwart, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, for the Congressional seat in Minnesota’s western Seventh District.

Fischbach will be a formidable opponent for Peterson, a 15-term congressman who has defeated a string of poorly funded Republican candidates even as his district has grown more conservative, said Sam Winter, a spokesman for Fischbach’s campaign.

“It is the most pro-Trump district in the country held by a Democrat,” said Winter, noting that Peterson won re-election in 2018 even though the Republican president carried his district by 31 points in 2016.

It's been assumed that once Peterson moves on, the 7th would likely be a GOP stronghold for years to come given it registered as a R+12 district in 2017. However, a Fischbach candidacy could result in Peterson being pushed out via the ballot box as opposed to him leaving on his own.

As I write this, I have yet to hear any reaction from Dave Hughes, who was the GOP nominee in CD7 each of the previous two election cycles. Hughes announced last month that he would seek to oppose Peterson in 2020 as well. But given he fell just short in 2016 (lost by 5%) and 2018 (4.2%), I would imagine the CD7 Republicans may decide on a fresh face. And given the national GOP's quest to elect more women to Congress, Fischbach would also have that to her advantage. Her background will also resonate with CD7 voters.

Fischbach lives in Paynesville with her husband, Scott Fischbach, executive director of the anti-abortion organization Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. Fischbach built a strongly conservative and anti-abortion track record in her long career in state politics, starting with her election to the Minnesota Senate in 1996, and her selection as the state’s first female Senate president in 2011.

I'm skeptical that the GOP will be able to regain control of the U.S. House in 2020. However, the best place to begin is putting up solid GOP candidates against any "blue dog Democrats" who remain (granted, there aren't a plethora of them). This is a definitely great start.