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Collin Peterson's Fundraising Numbers Not a Retirement 'Tell'

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Although Democratic alarm bells are ringing, Peterson's off-year fundraising tally is actually up in 2013 compared to his average hauls over the last decade

collinpeterson10.jpgSpeculation continues that 12-term Minnesota U.S. Representative Collin Peterson might retire at the end of his term after new numbers came out revealing the congressman's third quarter fundraising efforts.

Those numbers show Peterson to have raised approximately $83,000 from July through September to bring his year-to-date tally to $364,000.

Peterson - who will be 70 on Election Day next November - has not attempted to silence these rumors by stating unequivocally that he would run for a 13th term, but his campaign dismissed the congressman's fundraising numbers as a sign he would step down.

From a Peterson campaign statement reported by Roll Call:

"It's premature to read too much into Congressman Peterson's report this fundraising quarter given that he does not yet have an opponent, he is still considering whether he will run again, and the amount raised is similar to what he's raised previously in off-year quarters."

Is that true or is that campaign spin?

A Smart Politics review of Representative Peterson's fundraising efforts over the last decade show the congressman's 2013 tally is right on target - and actually exceeding similar off-year tallies.

Over the five previous cycles from 2003 through 2011, Peterson's average third quarter off-year fundraising tally was $94,460 - similar to this year's $83K.

In fact, Peterson raised more money in Q3 2013 than he did in the same period in 2003 ($61,660), 2005 ($70,378), and 2011 ($69,898).

The only cycles over the last decade in which he had a healthier total were in 2007 ($162,459) and 2009 ($107,907) - understandable considering Peterson, who has always been PAC-heavy in his fundraising, was the Agricultural Committee Chair during those years.

The $364K Peterson has raised during the first nine months of 2013 is also above his five-cycle average at this stage of the campaign.

From 2003 through 2011, Representative Peterson brought in an average three-quarter haul of $320,896 in off-years.

In other words, Peterson's 2013 tally is actually up 13.4 percent from his average tally over the last decade at this stage of the campaign, and 60 percent higher than his $227,460 average amount raised in 2003 ($96,110), 2005 ($252,963), and 2011 ($333,307) - the cycles before and after his Agriculture Committee chairmanship.

Republicans are, of course, salivating at the notion of a Peterson retirement given the GOP-lean of the district.

Minnesota's 7th CD would be one of the party's prime pick-up opportunities across the country.

The congressman has been reelected by an average margin of 28.6 points over the last 11 cycles including a comfortable 17.6-point win during the Republican tsunami of 2010.

Collin Peterson Off-Year Fundraising, 2003-2013

Year
Q3
YTD
2003
$61,660
$96,110
2005
$70,378
$252,963
2007*
$162,459
$522,336
2009*
$107,907
$399,767
2011
$69,898
$333,307
2013
$83,000
$364,000
Note: YTD column reflect money raised during the first three quarters of each year. * Denotes a cycle in which Peterson was Chair of the Agriculture Committee. ** Preliminary campaign estimate. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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