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Collin Peterson

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 7th district
Assumed office 
January 3, 1991
Preceded by Arlan Stangeland

Assumed office 
January 4, 2007
Preceded by Bob Goodlatte

Minnesota State Senator
from the 10th district
In office
1977 – 1986

Born June 29, 1944 (1944-06-29) (age 65)
Fargo, North Dakota
Political party Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party
Spouse(s) Divorced
Residence Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Alma mater Moorhead State University
Occupation accountant
Religion Lutheran
Military service
Service/branch United States Army National Guard
Years of service 1963-1969

Collin Clark Peterson (b. June 29, 1944 in Fargo, North Dakota), is an American politician from the U.S. state of Minnesota. Peterson has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 1991, representing Minnesota's 7th congressional district, one of eight congressional districts in Minnesota. The district, Minnesota's largest and most rural district, includes the entire northwestern area of the state. It includes Moorhead, Fergus Falls, Bemidji, Thief River Falls, Willmar, Marshall, and Alexandria.

Since 2007, Peterson has been chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.


Background and education

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. His current home is Detroit Lakes, just east of Moorhead.


Peterson was a member of the Minnesota State Senate for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (the Minnesota branch of the Democratic Party) from 1977 to 1986, representing a district in northwestern Minnesota.

He was elected to the Congress in 1990, defeating seven-term Republican Arlan Stangeland in 1990 on his fourth try after unsuccessful attempts in 1984, 1986 and 1988. The 7th has always been a somewhat conservative district and Peterson initially struggled to hold onto his seat in close elections. In 1992 he narrowly won re-election by a 50-49% margin against former state representative Bernie Omann. In a 1994 re-match against Omann, Peterson won by a 51-49% margin. From 1996 on, he has been re-elected by a wide margin, with voters giving him between 65 and 72 percent of the vote. He has served in the 102nd, 103rd, 104th, 105th, 106th, 107th, 108th, 109th, 110th, and 111th congresses thus far (January 3, 1991–present).

Issues and positions

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

In 1998, 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 was one of the seven original founders of the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate Democrats in the House.

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

Peterson is considered to be the most conservative Democrat in the Minnesota delegation in the 109th Congress, scoring 50% conservative by a conservative group[1] and 57% progressive by a liberal group.[2] He is somewhat conservative on social issues; he strongly opposes abortion and has been one of the few Democrats to vote against even stem cell research and the vast majority of gun control measures. He has voted to ban physician assisted suicide and also to approve the flag desecration amendment. Peterson also supports the federal marriage amendment and the death penalty. His socially conservative views are not surprising given the makeup of his district. The 7th contains some of the most conservative counties in the state. As previously mentioned, it is also the state's most rural district; many DFLers outside the Twin Cities are hunters and trappers who oppose gun control.

On economic issues, however, he is somewhat closer to the liberal wing of his party: he has voted against most free trade agreements, the Freedom to Farm Act, and the Telecom 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. Since becoming ranking Democrat on the Agriculture Committee, Peterson has voted more often with liberal Democrats. However, political commentators often note that Peterson once dated former Congresswoman Katherine Harris, who, as the Republican Secretary of State of Florida during the 2000 presidential election, infuriated Democrats by certifying George W. Bush as the election winner.[1]

Peterson was one of the few Democrats to vote in favor of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.[2]

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[3]. The case (Conyers v. Bush) was ultimately dismissed.[4]

In May 2007, Peterson was the lone Democrat to vote against the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act.[5]

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).[6][7]

In 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."[8]

Committee assignments


Agriculture Committee

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. [9]

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.

Other activities

In December 2005, Peterson joined with several other Congressmen to form the Second Amendments, a bipartisan rock and country band set to play for United States troops stationed overseas over the Holiday season. 1

Truther controversy

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". [10]

Electoral history


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 -
republican others 428 0.1 -


2006 Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota Elections
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Collin Peterson 179,163 70 +4
Republican Michael Barrett 74,680 29 -
Constitution Ken Lucier 3,303 1 -


2004 Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota Elections
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Collin Peterson 207,254 66 +1
Republican David Sturrock 106,235 34 -


2002 Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota Elections
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Collin Peterson 170,191 65 -
Republican Dan Stevens 90,320 35 -


1990 Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota Elections
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Collin Peterson 53 -
Republican Arlan Stangeland 46 -


  1. ^ "Congressional Voting Scorecard 2005" (pdf). SBE Council’s Congressional Voting Scorecard 2005. Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. June, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-02.  
  2. ^ "Leading with the Left". Progressive Punch. Retrieved 2006-11-02.  
  3. ^ Associated Press (2006-04-27). "11 House Members to Sue Over Budget Bill". ABC News. Retrieved 2007-02-20.  
  4. ^ Associated Press (2006-11-06). "Judge Dismisses Budget Bill Lawsuit". ABC News. Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  5. ^ Clerk of the House of Representatives (2007-05-23). "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 404". House of Representatives Roll Call. Retrieved 2007-05-24.  
  6. ^ Clerk of the House of Representatives (2009-01-28). "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 46 on "Making supplemental appropriations for fiscal year ending 2009"". House of Representatives Roll Call. Retrieved 2009-01-31.  
  7. ^ Kevin Díaz (2009-01-30). "Rep. Peterson: Stimulus is flawed". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2009-01-31.  
  8. ^ Sally Schuff (2009-05-06). "Peterson cries foul on EPA ethanol proposal, vows not to support climate change bill". Feedstuffs. Retrieved 2009-05-07.  
  9. ^ Dilanian, Ken, " Billions go to House panel members' districts", USA Today. July 26, 2007.
  10. ^ Roper, Eric (2009-07-29). "Peterson apologizes for slap at constituents". Retrieved July 28, 2009.  

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Roger L. Hanson
Minnesota Senate District 10
Succeeded by
Cal Larson
Fergus Falls
Preceded by
Robert W. Goodlatte
Chairman of House Agriculture Committee
Succeeded by
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Arlan Stangeland
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by


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