|Chair of the House Agriculture Committee|
January 3, 2019 – January 3, 2021
|Preceded by||Mike Conaway|
|Succeeded by||David Scott|
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2011
|Preceded by||Bob Goodlatte|
|Succeeded by||Frank Lucas|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Minnesota's 7th district
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2021
|Preceded by||Arlan Stangeland|
|Succeeded by||Michelle Fischbach|
|Member of the Minnesota Senate|
from the 10th district
January 4, 1977 – January 5, 1987
|Preceded by||Roger L. Hanson|
|Succeeded by||Cal Larson|
Collin Clark Peterson
June 29, 1944
Fargo, North Dakota, U.S.
|Education||Minnesota State University, Moorhead (BA)|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1963–1969|
|Unit||Army National Guard|
Collin Clark Peterson (born June 29, 1944) is an American accountant and politician who served as the U.S. representative for Minnesota's 7th congressional district from 1991 to 2021. A member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, or the DFL. he was chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture from 2019 to 2021 and previously holding the office from 2007 to 2011; he had been ranking member from 2011 to 2019 and 2005 to 2007. Peterson was the most senior U.S. Representative from Minnesota and the dean of Minnesota's congressional delegation. In 2020, Peterson was defeated by Michelle Fischbach, ending his 30-year tenure in the United States House of Representatives.
Early life, education, and early political career
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%. In 1982, he won re-election against state representative Cal Larson by just 200 votes, or 0.8% difference.
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%. In 1986, he ran in a rematch and narrowly lost by just 121 votes. In 1988, he ran again but lost in the DFL primary to State Senator Marv Hanson 55%–45%. 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%. Stangeland's stock had dropped sharply after he admitted making a number of personal calls on his House credit card.
In 1992, he narrowly won re-election by a 50%–49% margin against former State Representative Bernie Omann. In a 1994 rematch, Peterson won again by a 51%–49% margin, despite the Republican Revolution. In 1996, he won re-election with 68% of the vote, and won every county in the district. In 1998, he won re-election with 72% of the vote.
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. 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. 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 was one of only a handful represented by a Democrat which had been carried by Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. Republican opposition tactics have 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." 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." On March 17, 2014, Peterson officially announced that he was running for re-election, saying, "I still have a lot of work to do". Despite being heavily targeted by national Republican groups, Peterson defeated Republican State Senator Torrey Westrom in the general election by 54% to 46%.
In October 2014, Peterson 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. In January 2015, he stated that he was "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". He was challenged by Republican retired Air Force Major Dave Hughes and beat him in close races in 2016 and 2018.
Peterson held onto his seat despite a growing Republican trend in the region. From 2000 to 2016, the Republican presidential candidate carried it by double digits three out of five times. This culminated in 2016, when Donald Trump carried the district with 62 percent of the vote, his best showing in the state. Peterson thus sat in one of the most Republican districts in the country to be represented by a Democrat.
In the November 2020 general election, Peterson was defeated for reelection by Republican former state senator and former lieutenant governor Michelle Fischbach. In that same election, Trump again carried the 7th with his best margin in the state, this time with 64 percent and a 29-point margin. Peterson lost to Fischbach by a 14-point margin, the largest margin of defeat for any House incumbent that year. Despite his loss, he was the top-performing Democratic representative compared to presidential nominee Joe Biden, outperforming him by 16 points in the district. Peterson was the only non-freshman member of the House of Representatives to lose re-election in 2020, and Minnesota's 7th district was one of only two congressional districts that Republicans flipped in 2020 that they did not hold prior to 2018, the other being Iowa's 2nd congressional district.
- 116th Congress
- Committee on Agriculture (Chairman)
- As Chairman of the whole committee, he served as an ex officio member on all subcommittees
- Committee on Veterans' Affairs
- Past membership
- Committee on Agriculture (beginning with the 102nd Congress to present day; see: H.Res. 43)
- Chairman & former Ranking Member. As ranking member of the full committee, Peterson may sit as an ex officio member of all subcommittees.
- Oversight and Government Reform
- Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Peterson is one of the founders of the Blue Dog Coalition, the caucus of House Democrats who identify as moderates and conservatives. He was one of the most conservative Democrats in recent American history and frequently crossed the party line. Peterson had split from his party on issues such as gay marriage, healthcare, the estate tax, tort reform, gun control, the environment, DC statehood, and abortion. 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. In the 109th Congress, he was rated 50% conservative by a conservative group and 57% progressive by a liberal group.
During the first session of the 115th United States Congress, Peterson was ranked the most bipartisan member of the House of Representatives by the Bipartisan Index, a metric created by the Lugar Center and Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy to assess congressional bipartisanship.
Peterson is generally conservative on social issues; he strongly opposes legal abortion and has been one of the few Democrats to vote against embryonic stem cell research. He has voted to ban physician-assisted suicide and also to approve the proposed Flag Desecration Amendment to the United States Constitution. He also voted for the Defense of Marriage Act and supports the death penalty.
In January 2019, in reference to President Trump's proposed wall across the southern border, Peterson said, "I'd give him the whole thing ... and put strings on it so you make sure he puts the wall where it needs to be. Why are we fighting over this? We're going to build that wall anyway, at some time." Peterson furthered that there could be stipulations requiring some funding go toward Border Patrol and security measures at ports of entry being improved.
On April 4, 2019, Peterson was the only Democrat to vote against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, citing his disappointment with the law being "made partisan with the inclusion of language that would strip individuals' right to due process with respect to their 2nd Amendment rights."
Hunting and conservationism
His district 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. Peterson is a conservationist, but opposes "excessive environmental regulation" because he argues they harm farmers. 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. He has supported legislation that would end protection for wolves in the Endangered Species Act.
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 forbade non–North Dakota residents from hunting during the first week of the waterfowl hunting season. 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.
Although he's been called a strong fiscal conservative, 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, 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. He supports the FairTax, a national sales tax, estate-tax repeal and tort reform. He voted for the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act.
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. The case (Conyers v. Bush) was ultimately dismissed.
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).
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. 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."
In 2003, he was one of just 16 Democrats to vote for President Bush's Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act.
On March 21, 2010, Peterson voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). In January 2016, he voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (he was the sole Democrat in the House to vote for the repeal). In 2017, he voted against Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
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 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 addition to this, Peterson was the chair of the House committee on Agriculture in the 116th Congress.
In April 2009, Peterson voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
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."
On July 27, 2009, a controversy erupted after Peterson was quoted in a Politico.com 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".
In 2011, he co-sponsored HR 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The bill contained an exception for "forcible rape," which opponents criticized as potentially excluding drug-facilitated rape, date rape, and other forms of rape. The bill also allowed an exception for minors who are victims of incest.
Yemeni civil war
Peterson was one of five house Democrats who voted for the US to continue selling arms to Saudi Arabia and to support the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen. Asked why he voted against the resolution and what he knew about the Yemeni civil war, Peterson said, "I don't know a damn thing about it". Peterson also said that the resolution on US involvement in the Yemeni civil war would have jeopardized a farm bill that was under consideration at the same time; according to New York magazine's Eric Levitz, "by all accounts, voting against the Yemen resolution would not have doomed the farm bill."
Impeachment of Donald Trump
On October 31, 2019, he was one of two Democrats to vote against Article I of the impeachment inquiries against President Donald Trump, and one of the three Democrats to vote against Article II. He again was one of two Democrats, alongside Jeff Van Drew, to vote against impeachment on December 18, 2019.
Peterson was one of six House Democrats to vote against the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act to legalize cannabis at the federal level in 2020.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2020)
This section needs expansion with: election results between 1992 and 2000. You can help by adding to it. (July 2020)
|Democratic (DFL)||Collin Peterson (incumbent)||144,752||39.9%|
|Democratic||Collin Peterson (incumbent)||146,672||52.1||-0.4|
|Democratic||Collin Peterson (incumbent)||173,589||52.5||-1.7|
|Democratic||Collin Peterson (incumbent)||130,546||54.21%||-6.2%|
|Democratic||Collin Peterson (incumbent)||197,791||60.38%||+5.2%|
|Democratic||Collin Peterson (incumbent)||133,086||55.2||-17|
|Democratic||Collin Peterson (incumbent)||227,180||72.2||+2.2|
|Democratic||Collin Peterson (incumbent)||179,163||69.7||+4|
|Democratic||Collin Peterson (incumbent)||207,254||66.1||+1|
|Democratic||Collin Peterson (incumbent)||170,191||65.3||-|
|Republican||Arlan Stangeland (incumbent)||92,876||46.40||-|
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. He is a licensed private pilot and frequently travels by private plane across his district.
- United States congressional delegations from Minnesota
- List of United States representatives from Minnesota
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- "MN State Senate 10 Race - Nov 02, 1982". Our Campaigns. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
- "MN District 7 Race - Nov 06, 1984". Our Campaigns. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
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- Rasky, Susan F. (November 8, 1990). "THE 1990 ELECTIONS Four Issues and How They Played at the Polls Before Uncertain Voters; Ethics: Scandals Costly In Some Races". The New York Times.
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- "Collin Peterson". Minnesota Public Radio. 2004. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
- "MN - District 07 Race - Nov 02, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
- "GOP pokes at Peterson on healthcare and the IRS". MPR News. May 28, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
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- "Peterson says GOP efforts to push him out having the opposite effect". MPR News. June 6, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2013.[permanent dead link]
- "Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson will run again". Star Tribune. March 17, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
- Allison Sherry (October 27, 2014). "@collinpeterson said he may run til 2020 cuz the Republicans 'made me mad'". Twitter. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- "Rep. Collin Peterson: I am planning on running again next year". startribune.com. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- "Michelle Fischbach unseats Rep. Collin Peterson in Minnesota". AP NEWS. November 4, 2020. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
- Presidential results by congressional district from Daily Kos
- Rakich, Nathaniel (March 23, 2021). "The Strongest House Candidates In 2020 Were (Mostly) Moderate". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
- Other sessions include the "107th Congress (2001-2002) H.RES.25.EH"
- Peterson has also been the chairman at least three times:
- H.Res. 43: 102nd Congress (1991-1992) H.RES.43.ATH
- H.Res. 34: 103rd Congress (1993-1994) H.RES.34.EH
- H.Res. 31: 104th Congress (1995-1996) H.RES.31.EH
- H.Res. 13: 105th Congress (1997-1998) H.RES.13.EH
- H.Res. 7: 106th Congress (1999-2000) H.RES.7.ATH
- 107th Congress (2001-2002) H.RES.25.EH
- "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
- "Members". Blue Dog Coalition. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
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- Tim Nelson (July 29, 2009). "GOP targets U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson". MPR News. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
- Colin Diersing (August 19, 2014). "Peterson's Greatest Challenge Yet, but GOP Still Looks to 2016". Roll Call. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014. Retrieved November 2, 2006.
- "Republicans make U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson an early target". Star Tribune. June 27, 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2006.
- "7th District so big, candidates use planes like cars". Minnesota Public Radio. October 14, 2002. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
- "After marriage ruling, many Minnesota politicians eager to move on". Minnesota Public Radio. June 27, 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2006.
- "The Defectors". Prospect.org. October 5, 2005. Archived from the original on April 16, 2007. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
- Eric Ostermeier (October 26, 2008). "Election Profile: Minnesota's 7th Congressional District (2008)". Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Archived from the original on November 15, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
- "Congressional Voting Scorecard 2005" (PDF). SBE Council's Congressional Voting Scorecard 2005. Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. June 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 29, 2006. Retrieved November 2, 2006.
- "Leading with the Left". Progressive Punch. Retrieved November 2, 2006.
- "The Lugar Center - McCourt School Bipartisan Index" (PDF). Washington, D.C.: The Lugar Center. April 24, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
- "Collin Peterson No. 1 on bipartisanship". Detroit Lakes, Minnesota: Detroit Lakes Online. May 3, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
- "Stem-cell debate to spill over into '06". The Hill. May 26, 2005. Archived from the original on September 20, 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
- "Dayton stands firm on flag issue". St. Paul Pioneer Press. July 5, 2005. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
- "Dem lawmaker calls on Democrats to 'give Trump the money' for border wall". The Hill. January 22, 2019.
- "House votes to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act, closing 'boyfriend loophole'". The Hill. April 4, 2019.
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- "GOP targets landmark Endangered Species Act for big changes". The Big Story. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
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- "Minnesota Hatch v. Hoeven". FindLaw. August 3, 2006. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
- "U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson opposes new ban on assault weapons". St. Paul Pioneer Press. December 20, 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
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- 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.
- Kevin Díaz (January 30, 2009). "Rep. Peterson: Stimulus is flawed". Star Tribune. Retrieved January 31, 2009.
- Stoddard, Grant (January–February 2011). "The Lost Canadians". The Walrus. pp. 24–31. Archived from the original on December 23, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
- David Brauer (March 21, 1998). "Fishing Dispute Has Territory In Minnesota Angling To Secede". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
- "Peterson Statement on Health Care Vote" (Press release). March 21, 2010. Archived from the original on March 25, 2010. Retrieved Mar 25, 2010.
- Haberkorn, Jennifer. "Just 4 anti-ACA House Dems left". POLITICO. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
- Staff, MPR News. "The latest vote to repeal Obamacare wasn't along party lines". Mprnews.org. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
- Staff, MPR News. "How your members of Congress voted on the health care bill". Mprnews.org. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
- "H.R. 884: Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security Act of 2005". GovTrack.us.
- Bill Text 109th Congress (2005–2006) S.359.IS Archived February 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, THOMAS
- "GovTrack: House Vote On Passage: H.R. 6166 [109th]: Military Commissions Act of 2006". Govtrack.us. September 27, 2006. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
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- "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 223". Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
- Sally Schuff (May 6, 2009). "Peterson cries foul on EPA ethanol proposal, vows not to support climate change bill". Feedstuffs. Archived from the original on January 23, 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2009.
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- "Full text of House Resolution 3: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act". Govtrack.us. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
- "What is 'forcible rape' exactly?". The Washington Post.
- Fuller, Matt; Ahmed, Akbar Shahid (December 12, 2018). "5 Democrats Bail Out Paul Ryan And Protect Saudi Arabia". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
- Levitz, Eric (December 13, 2018). "Democrat On Why He Voted to Prolong Yemen War: 'I Don't Know a Damn Thing About It'". New York Magazine. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
- Segers, Grace; Watson, Kathryn; Becket, Stefan (October 31, 2019). "House approves impeachment rules, ushering in new phase of inquiry". CBS News. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
- Edmondson, Catie (October 31, 2019). "Meet the Democrats Who Broke Ranks on Impeachment". The New York Times. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
- "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 694". Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
- "Peterson: 'Trump is done'". KVRR. February 15, 2021. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
- Portnoy, Jenna (June 26, 2020). "D.C. statehood approved by U.S. House for first time in history". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
- Daly, Matthew (December 4, 2020). "House votes to decriminalize marijuana at federal level". Associated Press. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
- "2018 State Canvassing Board". Minnesota Secretary of State. pp. 19–20. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
- "State Canvasing Board 1990". sos.state.mn.us. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
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- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Political profile at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library
- Appearances on C-SPAN