Peterson: Keep your Ag Secretary job!

According to Forum Communications’ Don Davis (via MnPublius’ Zach Stephenson), conservative Minnesota DFLer Collin Peterson is swearing off any interest in becoming Barack Obama’s Agriculture Secretary.

Peterson — who already has a pretty sweet gig as House Ag Committee chair — tells Davis:

“I made it very clear I did not want an offer” … And whenever he speaks to a group, which happens a lot as a powerful chairman, one of his lines is: “I guarantee you it is not going to be me.”

The Peterson boomlet — and who knows for sure if it was ever real — reminded me of a dispatch from The Hill newspaper, regurgitated in a Daily Kos post three years ago. A few highlights:

[Democratic House] Party leaders dressed down Peterson as he sought to persuade the 50 members of the steering committee to make him the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee. … Peterson was one of five Democrats to vote for the House GOP drug bill in 2000 and one of eight to vote for the Republican Medicare bill in 2002. …

“There is no doubt that there’s a lot of resentment about how Collin Peterson has conducted himself in his time in Congress. It’s more than just the Medicare vote,” a senior Democratic aide said.

By making Peterson sweat out his committee position, Democratic leaders hoped to send a clear message to their caucus that they would demand a higher degree of party loyalty in the coming Congress, several leadership aides said.

“Why not just not pay your dues, buck the party on important votes and hold press conferences with Republicans to make your election a cakewalk and then still get your committee?” another Democratic leadership aide said.

Adds a Daily Kos commentator:

[I]f Peterson is not given the top Democratic slot on Agriculture, he could decide to retire from Congress, leaving open a seat that Republicans might be in a better position to capture.

Well, that seat apparently won’t open up now, either.

One wonders if Obama ever seriously wanted Peterson given his Democratic apostasy. Maybe an anointment would have represented bipartisanship even though the two men carry the same party label.

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