Saying rumors of his retirement were "ginned up" by Republicans, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said Tuesday he will seek an 11th term next year.
The National Republican Congressional Caucus last week put out statements alluding to Peterson's possible retirement, saying the 7th District Democrat hasn't been aggressively fundraising, and has given some funds to other Democratic candidates.
Peterson's decision to put off until February an announcement that he will seek re-election "speaks volumes about his openness to joining (three other House members) in passing on a 2010 re-election bid," said NRCC spokesman Tom Erickson.
"I don't know why anyone would give credibility to these Republican rumors," Peterson said Tuesday in a statement issued by his Washington, D.C., office. "I'm running for re-election and anyone who knows me knows that what I'm doing now is what I've always done. My paperwork is on file and in February I'll make an official announcement."
Peterson, first elected in 1990, is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and architect of the 2008 Farm Bill. He won his last election by a 72 percent margin, and hasn't been really tested since the mid-1990s.
"I think political campaigns are already too long -- and my constituents agree -- and so I wait and do what I can to make mine as short as I can," Peterson said.
"This retirement rumor is being ginned up by the National Republican Party people in Washington, D.C., who don't know anything about Minnesota's 7th District," he added. "As for why they are working so hard to circulate this baloney, I think they're just trying to stir things up because they don't have a candidate to run against me."
NRCC's spokesman on the issue, Erickson, says he is a native of Minnesota from the 7th District and a former Peterson constituent. He is also a former press aide to former Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.
"Congressman Peterson has no one to blame but himself for this speculation that he'd retire," Erickson said in a statement Tuesday. "Peterson's fundraising is stagnant, he denigrated his district by claiming one-quarter of his constituents believe 9/11 was an inside job, he sold out Minnesota's ag community by cutting a deal on cap-and-trade and just last week he refused to commit to another campaign. Given all this, Peterson might want to reconsider his decision."
Peterson took heat earlier this summer when a Washington reporter quoted him on why he doesn't like holding town hall meetings as usually "conspiracy nuts" show up.
And while the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation opposes the climate change bill passed by the House, which Peterson voted for, the Ag Committee chairman won several concessions favorable to the ag community to win that support.