WASHINGTON — After a financial disclosure form showed U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson had sold his Washington, D.C., condo for $460,000, the National Republican Campaign Committee late this month jumped on the sale saying the 15-term congressman apparently was ready to retire.
Not so fast, said the dean of the Minnesota congressional delegation in a telephone interview Thursday, June 27.
Although Peterson wouldn't say he was running again in 2020, the man who turns 75 on Saturday, June 29, and who has represented his western Minnesota 7th District for 28 years did say he was still raising money and attending parades.
"I'll make a decision in January or February like I always do," said the congressman who is also chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee after serving as the ranking member for years.
And the reason he sold his one-bedroom condo in the southwest part of Washington along the waterfront after 12 years? He explained that he didn't like the condo management, the area was becoming overcrowded with 5,000 new units in the past three to four years and he needed the equity.
With that equity, he said he bought another quarter section of land with his farming partner and son, Jason Peterson, near Thief River Falls, where he also has a cabin. He said he enjoys deer hunting at the cabin, and he recently caught a 500-pound bear on his security camera.
With Congress taking a break this week, Peterson said he was going back to the 450-acre farm to plant canola in a 2.5-acre field that always stays too wet. That will be in addition to his fields of corn, soybeans and sugar beets.
He also still has his home in Detroit Lakes, too, and after selling the D.C. condo he moved into an apartment he rents only about three blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
"I didn't really want to have three homes," he added.
As for the Republican comments from NRCC spokeswoman Carly Atchinson about his selling his condo and suggesting it was Peterson's "time to go home," he simply said the Republicans were "dreaming."
The farmers in his district that covers most of western Minnesota and stretches from the Canadian border southward to almost the Iowa border "don't want me to quit" as he said there are some "perks" as he recently secured a deal in the agriculture appropriations bill to keep out an amendment that ends sugar subsidies for farmers.
Peterson, long known as a conservative Democrat in the House, said he doesn't believe a Democrat could win the district if he retired as for example voters in the past two presidential election have voted Republican by a 12 percentage-point margin, except in Peterson's case where he won by 4.3 percentage points.
Also lying ahead is the possible redrawing of the state's congressional district's through reapportionment, which could mean a new northern Minnesota district that would run across the state. That would come in the 2022 election cycle.
So is that when Peterson, who was born in Fargo, may step down? Well, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 79 and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is 80.
Just last year Peterson lost his father, who lived to be 98. So maybe he'll be in office that long?
That may be a Democratic dream.