When Torrey Westrom announced that he was running to win Collin Peterson's seat in Congress, the average Minnesotan likely shrugged their shoulders, then returned to doing whatever they'd been doing. Rest assured, people in the Peterson campaign machine, such that it is, didn't take that nonchalant attitude.
Sen. Westrom's announcement got the Peterson campaign's undivided attention for a plethora of reasons. First, Sen. Westrom is a fantastic, tireless campaigner. That alone sent the signal to Peterson that he'd better prepare for the toughest campaign of his life.
Should Peterson accept the challenge, Sen. Westrom will be the best opponent he's faced since he defeated Arlan Stangeland, the incumbent at the time, in 1990. In fact, it isn't guaranteed that Peterson will accept Sen. Westrom's challenge. Peterson might simply retire rather than get fired by voters.
Second, Sen. Westrom has a fascinating political personality. Colleagues have said that people naturally warm up in his presence. (That's likely why he's a great campaigner.)
Third, Sen. Westrom is a solid conservative with some impressive credentials:
In 2002, President Bush appointed him to serve a four-year term on a federal advisory panel called the Ticket to Work. The panel advised Congress and the White House on return-to-work programs for people with disabilities.
Sen. Westrom has also served on the Rural Health Care Advisory Task Force, which will serve him and his constituents well if he's elected.
Fourth, Sen. Westrom will raise all the money he needs to compete with Congressman Peterson. That's partly due to the fact that Republicans would love to defeat Congressman Peterson, partially because he's a conservative's conservative, partially because people believe he can be David to Peterson's Goliath.
The only question that remains is whether Peterson retires or whether he accepts the challenge to run the most uphill fight of his lengthy political career.
At this point, political insiders wouldn't be surprised if Congressman Peterson simply retired rather than spending months campaigning against a top tier opponent.