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Collin Peterson

Collin Peterson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 7th district
Assumed office
January 3, 1991
Preceded by Arlan Stangeland
Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Bob Goodlatte
Succeeded by Frank Lucas
Member of the Minnesota Senate
from the 10th district
In office
January 4, 1977 – January 5, 1987
Preceded by Roger L. Hanson
Succeeded by Cal Larson
Personal details
Born Collin Clark Peterson
(1944-06-29) June 29, 1944
Fargo, North Dakota, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Minnesota State University, Moorhead
Religion Lutheranism
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Army National Guard
Years of service 1963–1969

Collin Clark Peterson (born June 29, 1944) is an American politician, member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party and the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 7th congressional district, serving since 1991. He is the ranking member of the House Committee on Agriculture and the Dean of the Minnesota congressional delegation. A conservative Democrat, his district, Minnesota's largest and most rural district, includes most of the western area of the state, including Moorhead, Fergus Falls, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Thief River Falls, Willmar, Marshall, and Alexandria.


  • Early life, education, and early political career 1
  • U.S. House of Representatives 2
    • Elections 2.1
    • Tenure 2.2
    • Committee assignments 2.3
    • Caucus membership 2.4
  • Electoral history 3
  • Personal life 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life, education, and early political career

Collin Peterson was born in Fargo, North Dakota, grew up on a farm in Baker, Minnesota, and received his B.A. at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Peterson was a member of the Minnesota Senate for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (the Minnesota branch of the Democratic Party) from 1977 to 1986, representing a district in northwestern Minnesota. In 1976, he defeated Republican nominee Frank DeGroat 55%-45%.[1] In 1982, he won re-election against State Representative Cal Larson by just 200 votes, or 0.8% difference.[2]

U.S. House of Representatives



In 1984, he ran for Minnesota's 7th congressional district in Northwestern Minnesota, held by Republican Arlan Stangeland. Peterson lost 57%–43%.[3] In 1986, he ran in a rematch and narrowly lost by just 121 votes.[4] In 1988, he ran again but lost in the DFL primary to State Senator Marv Hanson 55%–45%.[5] Hanson went on to lose to Stangeland 55%–45%.


In 1990, he ran for a fourth time and won the primary. In the general election, he finally defeated seven-term incumbent Stangeland by 54%–46%.[6] In 1992, he narrowly won re-election by a 50%–49% margin against former State Representative Bernie Omann.[7] In a 1994 rematch, Peterson won again by a 51%–49% margin, despite the Republican Revolution.[8] In 1996, he won re-election with 68% of the vote, and won every county in the district.[9] In 1998, he won re-election with 72% of the vote.[10]


In the 2000s, Peterson never faced a serious re-election challenge and only once did he win re-election with less than two-thirds of the vote. In 2000, he was mentioned as a possible candidate for the U.S. Senate against Republican Rod Grams, but he chose to run for re-election, winning with 69% of the vote.[11] In 2002, he won with 65% of the vote. In 2004, he won with 66% of the vote. In 2006, he won with 70% of the vote. In 2008, he won with 72% of the vote.


In 2010, Peterson survived another Republican wave election. This time, he defeated Lee Byberg 55%–38%, his worst election performance since 1994.[12] In 2012, Peterson won re-election with 60.38% to Republican Lee Byberg's 34.85% and Independent Adam Steele's 4.67%.

In 2013, Republicans began pressuring Peterson, in hopes of convincing him to retire. His seat is one of only a handful that is represented by a Democrat but was carried by Mitt Romney in the 2012 election and is seen as a top pick-up opportunity should Peterson retire. Their tactics included airing television advertisements, hiring a press staffer to give opposition research to reporters, hiring a tracker to follow him around his district and record him, and sending mobile billboards with critical statements on them to drive around his hometown. Peterson responded by saying "They don't have anybody else to go after. It's kind of ridiculous, but whatever."[13][14] After Republicans spread rumors that Peterson was planning to buy a house in Florida and retire there, he said: "I went from neutral on running again to 90 percent just because of this stupid stuff they're doing. You can't let these people be in charge of anything, in my opinion."[15] On March 17, 2014, Peterson officially announced that he was running for re-election, saying, "I still have a lot of work to do".[16] Despite being heavily targeted by national Republican groups, Peterson defeated Republican State Senator Torrey Westrom in the general election by 54% to 46%.

In January 2015, Peterson stated that he is "running at this point" for re-election in 2016, saying that the efforts by Republicans to unseat him had "energized me" and "got me fired up".[17] In October 2014, he said that he may keep running until 2020 because the Republicans "made me mad" with their efforts to defeat him or persuade him to retire.[18]


Peterson was one of the original founders of the Blue Dog Coalition, the caucus of House Democrats who identify as moderates and conservatives.[19] He is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress and frequently crosses the party line.[20][21][22][23][24][25] In 2008, a report by Congressional Quarterly found he had the lowest party loyalty score over the previous five years of any member of the Minnesota congressional delegation.[26] In the 109th Congress, he was rated 50% conservative by a conservative group[27] and 57% progressive by a liberal group.[28]

Peterson is generally conservative on social issues; he strongly opposes abortion and has been one of the few Democrats to vote against embryonic stem cell research.[11][29] He has voted to ban physician assisted suicide and also to approve the proposed Flag Desecration Amendment to the United States Constitution.[30] He also voted for the Defense of Marriage Act and supports the death penalty.[11][23]

The 7th contains some of the most conservative counties in the state and also the state's most rural district; many DFLers outside the Twin Cities are hunters and trappers who oppose gun control.[22][26] Peterson is a conservationist, but opposes "excessive environmental regulation" because he argues they harm farmers.[22] He is an avid hunter and supports animal trapping, but in 2000 he joined with The Humane Society of the United States to pass legislation that stopped the interstate shipping of birds for cockfighting.[11][31] He has an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association and is a "staunch" supporter of gun rights.[32]

Although he's been called a strong fiscal conservative,[26] he is somewhat closer to the liberal wing of his party on economic issues: he has voted against most free trade agreements, the North American Free Trade Agreement,[22] the Freedom to Farm Act, and the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He also voted against both versions of the Patriot Act and he has been sharply critical of the No Child Left Behind Act, which he contends is unfair to rural students.[21][22][33] He supports the FairTax, a national sales tax, estate-tax repeal, tort reform, and the Bush tax cuts. He voted against the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act.[21]

Peterson joined the House Republicans in voting against the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993.[21]

In 1998, as part of an effort to change what were considered unequal fishing regulations between the U.S. and Canada, Peterson gained attention by proposing a constitutional amendment that would allow the residents of Minnesota's Northwest Angle to vote on whether they wanted to secede from the United States and join the Canadian province of Manitoba.[34] Peterson said that the amendment, which was part of a mock secession movement, was successful in bringing the issue to the attention of the White House: "In just the day after I introduced (the amendment), people from the vice president's office have been asking questions, people in the White House (too). I've got meetings scheduled with the U.S. trade representative... we've educated people on both sides of the border, and I think we've brought it closer to the point where we'll get this thing resolved."[35]

In 2003, he was one of just 16 Democrats to vote for President Bush's Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act.[21]

From 2003 through 2005, $14.7 billion in crop subsidies went to the congressional districts of members on the House Committee on Agriculture, an analysis by the non-partisan Environmental Working Group found. That was 42.4% of the total subsidies. Peterson is reported to have brought $874 million to his District.[36] In Peterson's district, which includes sugar beets, wheat and poultry, 58% of the $2.8 billion paid out in crop subsidies from 1995 to 2005 went to 10% of recipients, according to the Environmental Working Group, which tracks farm spending. The chairman says he has no problem with that. "Ten percent of the farmers produce 90% of the food," he says.

In 2004, he joined with Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch in suing the state of North Dakota over what they argued were discriminatory laws that forbid non-North Dakota residents from hunting during the first week of the waterfowl hunting season.[37] Their case was rejected by the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, a decision which was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.[38]

In January 2005, he was selected by the House Democratic Caucus to succeed former Texas Congressman Charlie Stenholm as the Ranking Member on the Committee on Agriculture. He became the committee's chairman after the Democrats won control of the House two years later.

Peterson was a cosponsor of the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security Act of 2005[39][40] which would provide job protection for three million illegal immigrant agricultural workers and their families, and extend the visas of legal immigrant agricultural workers.

In December 2005, Peterson joined four Republicans to form the Second Amendments, a rock and country band.[41]

Along with John Conyers, in April 2006 Peterson brought an action against George W. Bush and others alleging violations of the Constitution in the passing of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.[42] The case (Conyers v. Bush) was ultimately dismissed.[43]

Peterson was one of the few Democrats to vote in favor of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.[44]

In May 2007, Peterson was the lone Democrat to vote against the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act.[45]

On January 28, 2009, Peterson was amongst the seven Democrats who voted in the House together with the unanimous Republican opposition against President Obama's stimulus package (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).[46][47]

In April 2009, Peterson voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.[48]

On May 6, 2009, Peterson voiced his opposition to climate change legislation proposed by the Obama Administration saying, "I will not support any kind of climate change bill – even if you fix this – because I don't trust anybody anymore. I've had it." Peterson predicted that an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to assess indirect effects of ethanol production on greenhouse gas emissions, combined with the climate change legislation, could "kill off corn ethanol."[49]

On July 27, 2009, a controversy erupted after Peterson was quoted in a article saying, "25 percent of my people believe the Pentagon and Rumsfeld were responsible for taking the twin towers down. That's why I don't do town meetings." The state Republican Party denounced the remark as "outrageous and offensive". Peterson apologized for the comment, which he described as "off-hand".[50]

On March 21, 2010, Peterson voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[51]

In 2010, he was endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee[52] and the National Rifle Association.[53]

In 2011, he co-sponsored HR 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.[54] The bill contained an exception for "forcible rape," which opponents criticized as potentially excluding drug-facilitated rape, date rape, and other forms of rape.[55] The bill also allowed an exception for minors who are victims of incest.[54]

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Agriculture (beginning with the 102nd Congress to present day; see: H.Res. 43[56])
    • Ranking Member & former Chairman.[57] As ranking member of the full committee, Peterson may sit as an ex officio member of all subcommittees.
  • Oversight and Government Reform
    • This was one of the first committees Peterson served on {102nd[58] 103rd[59] 104th[60] & 105th[61] Congresses}. It appears that he did not serve on this committee from the 106th onwards.
  • Veterans' Affairs Committee
    • Began membership in the 106th Congress,[62] 107th.[63]

Caucus membership

  • Military Veterans Caucus, Co-chair

Electoral history

2012 Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota Elections
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Collin Peterson 197,791 60.4 +5.2
Republican Lee Byberg 114,151 34.8 -2.8
Independence Adam Steele 15,298 4.7 -
2010 Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota Elections
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Collin Peterson 133,086 55.2 -17
Republican Lee Byberg 90,682 37.6 -
Independent Gene Waldorf 9,310 3.9 -
Independence Glen Menze 7,904 3.3 -24.4
2008 Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota Elections
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Collin Peterson 227,180 72.2 +2.2
Republican Glen Menze 87,057 27.7 -
2006 Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota Elections
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Collin Peterson 179,163 69.7 +4
Republican Michael Barrett 74,680 29.0 -
Constitution Ken Lucier 3,303 1.3 -
2004 Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota Elections
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Collin Peterson 207,254 66.1 +1
Republican David Sturrock 106,235 33.8 -
2002 Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota Elections
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Collin Peterson 170,191 65.3 -
Republican Dan Stevens 90,320 35.6 -
1990 Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota Elections
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Collin Peterson 53 -
Republican Arlan Stangeland 46 -

Personal life

Peterson lives in Detroit Lakes, just east of Moorhead. He is divorced and previously dated former Congresswoman Katherine Harris, the former Republican Secretary of State of Florida.[22] He is a licensed private pilot and frequently travels by private plane across his district.[11][22]

See also


  1. ^ "MN State Senate 10 Race - Nov 02, 1976". Our Campaigns. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  2. ^ "MN State Senate 10 Race - Nov 02, 1982". Our Campaigns. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  3. ^ "MN District 7 Race - Nov 06, 1984". Our Campaigns. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  4. ^ "MN District 7 Race - Nov 04, 1986". Our Campaigns. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  5. ^ "MN District 7 - DFL Primary Race - Sep 13, 1988". Our Campaigns. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  6. ^ "MN District 7 Race - Nov 06, 1990". Our Campaigns. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  7. ^ "MN District 7 Race - Nov 03, 1992". Our Campaigns. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  8. ^ "MN District 7 Race - Nov 08, 1994". Our Campaigns. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  9. ^ "MN District 7 Race - Nov 05, 1996". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  10. ^ "MN District 7 Race - Nov 03, 1998". Our Campaigns. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d e "Collin Peterson".  
  12. ^ "MN - District 07 Race - Nov 02, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  13. ^ "GOP pokes at Peterson on healthcare and the IRS". MPR News. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  14. ^ "Parties Push For House Retirements". National Journal. 23 May 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  15. ^ "Peterson says GOP efforts to push him out having the opposite effect". MPR News. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson will run again". Star Tribune. March 17, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Rep. Collin Peterson: I am planning on running again next year". Retrieved January 28, 2015. 
  18. ^ Allison Sherry (October 27, 2014). "'"@collinpeterson said he may run til 2020 cuz the Republicans 'made me mad. Twitter. Retrieved January 28, 2015. 
  19. ^ Certain, Geni (2012). Professor-Politician, The Biography of Alabama Congressman Glen Browder. NewSouth Books. p. 147.  
  20. ^ Tim Nelson (July 29, 2009). "GOP targets U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson". MPR News. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c d e "The Defectors". October 5, 2005. Archived from the original on April 16, 2007. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f g "7th District so big, candidates use planes like cars".  
  23. ^ a b "After marriage ruling, many Minnesota politicians eager to move on". Minnesota Public Radio. June 27, 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2006. 
  24. ^ Colin Diersing (August 19, 2014). "Peterson’s Greatest Challenge Yet, but GOP Still Looks to 2016". Roll Call. Retrieved November 2, 2006. 
  25. ^ "Republicans make U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson an early target". Star Tribune. June 27, 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2006. 
  26. ^ a b c Eric Ostermeier (October 26, 2008). "Election Profile: Minnesota's 7th Congressional District (2008)". Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Congressional Voting Scorecard 2005" (PDF). SBE Council’s Congressional Voting Scorecard 2005. Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. June 2006. Retrieved November 2, 2006. 
  28. ^ "Leading with the Left". Progressive Punch. Retrieved November 2, 2006. 
  29. ^ "Stem-cell debate to spill over into '06". The Hill. May 26, 2005. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Dayton stands firm on flag issue". St. Paul Pioneer Press. July 5, 2005. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Strange Allies Battle Against Cockfighting". Los Angeles Times. April 1, 2000. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  32. ^ "U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson opposes new ban on assault weapons". St. Paul Pioneer Press. December 20, 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Two candidates seek to represent US District 7". Herald-Journal. 2008. Retrieved September 14, 2014. 
  34. ^ Stoddard, Grant (January–February 2011). "The Lost Canadians". The Walrus. pp. 24–31. 
  35. ^ David Brauer (March 21, 1998). "Fishing Dispute Has Territory In Minnesota Angling To Secede".  
  36. ^ Dilanian, Ken, " Billions go to House panel members' districts", USA Today. July 26, 2007.
  37. ^ Laura McCallum (March 9, 2004). "Minnesota suing North Dakota over hunting laws".  
  38. ^ "Minnesota Hatch v. Hoeven".  
  39. ^ H.R. 884: Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security Act of 2005,
  40. ^ Bill Text 109th Congress (2005–2006) S.359.IS, THOMAS
  41. ^ Minnesota District 7:Rep. Collin Peterson (D)
  42. ^ "11 House Members to Sue Over Budget Bill". ABC News. Associated Press. April 27, 2006. Archived from the original on February 5, 2009. Retrieved February 20, 2007. 
  43. ^ "Judge Dismisses Budget Bill Lawsuit". ABC News. Associated Press. November 6, 2006. Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved November 28, 2006. 
  44. ^ "GovTrack: House Vote On Passage: H.R. 6166 [109th]: Military Commissions Act of 2006". September 27, 2006. Retrieved July 20, 2010. 
  45. ^ Clerk of the House of Representatives (May 23, 2007). "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 404". House of Representatives Roll Call. Retrieved May 24, 2007. 
  46. ^ Clerk of the House of Representatives (January 28, 2009). """FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 46 on "Making supplemental appropriations for fiscal year ending 2009. House of Representatives Roll Call. Retrieved January 31, 2009. 
  47. ^ Kevin Díaz (January 30, 2009). "Rep. Peterson: Stimulus is flawed". Star Tribune. Retrieved January 31, 2009. 
  48. ^ [2]. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  49. ^ Sally Schuff (May 6, 2009). "Peterson cries foul on EPA ethanol proposal, vows not to support climate change bill". Feedstuffs. Retrieved May 7, 2009. 
  50. ^ Roper, Eric (July 29, 2009). "Peterson apologizes for slap at constituents". Retrieved July 28, 2009. 
  51. ^ "Peterson Statement on Health Care Vote" (Press release). Mar 21, 2010. Retrieved Mar 25, 2010. 
  52. ^ National Right to Life PAC Endorses Chip Cravaack for Congress in Minnesota 8th Congressional District Archived July 6, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  53. ^ Birkey, Andy (October 4, 2010). "National Rifle Association endorses Walz". The Minnesota Independent. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  54. ^ a b "Full text of House Resolution 3: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act". Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  55. ^ "What is 'forcible rape' exactly?". The Washington Post. 
  56. ^ Other sessions include the "107th Congress (2001-2002) H.RES.25.EH"
  57. ^ Peterson has also been the Chairman at least three times:
    • H.Res. 7: 112th Congress (2011-2012) H.RES.7.EH ,
    • H.Res. 8: 111th Congress (2009-2010) H.RES.8.EH and
    • H.Res. 7: 110th Congress (2007-2008) H.RES.7.EH
    • but not in the 109th Congress.
  58. ^ H.Res. 43: 102nd Congress (1991-1992) H.RES.43.ATH
  59. ^ H.Res. 34: 103rd Congress (1993-1994) H.RES.34.EH
  60. ^ H.Res. 31: 104th Congress (1995-1996) H.RES.31.EH
  61. ^ H.Res. 13: 105th Congress (1997-1998) H.RES.13.EH
  62. ^ H.Res. 7: 106th Congress (1999-2000) H.RES.7.ATH
  63. ^ 107th Congress (2001-2002) H.RES.25.EH

External links

  • Congressman Collin Peterson official U.S. House site
  • Peterson for Congress
  • Collin Peterson at Minnesota Legislators Past & Present
Minnesota Senate
Preceded by
Roger L. Hanson
Member of the Minnesota Senate
from the 10th district

Succeeded by
Cal Larson
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Arlan Stangeland
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 7th congressional district

Preceded by
Bob Goodlatte
Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture
Succeeded by
Frank Lucas
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Rosa DeLauro
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Maxine Waters
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