Collin Clark Peterson (born June 29, 1944), is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 7th congressional district, serving since 1991, and the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee. He is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and is the dean of the Minnesota congressional delegation.
The district, Minnesota's largest and most rural district, includes the entire northwestern area of the state. It includes Moorhead, Fergus Falls, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Thief River Falls, Willmar, Marshall, and Alexandria.
Early life 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.
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.
U.S. House of Representatives
- Committee on Agriculture(Ranking Member)
- As ranking member of the full committee, Rep. ex officio member of all subcommittees.
Peterson may sit as an
- Military Veterans Caucus, Co-chair
Peterson was one of the seven original founders of the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate Democrats in the House.
Peterson is considered to be the most conservative Democrat in the Minnesota delegation in the 109th Congress, scoring 50% conservative by a conservative group and 57% progressive by a liberal group. 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.
Peterson was one of the few Democrats to vote in favor of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
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 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.
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.
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. ) was ultimately dismissed. Bush
In May 2007, Peterson was the lone Democrat to vote against the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act.
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).
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 March 21, 2010, Peterson voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
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. 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.
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 2010, he was endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee and the National Rifle Association.
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.
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. In 1986, he lost to Strangeland by 121 votes. 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).
Peterson lives in Detroit Lakes, just east of Moorhead.
December 6th, 2011