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Tom Petri

Tom Petri
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 6th district
In office
April 3, 1979 – January 3, 2015
Preceded by Bill Steiger
Succeeded by Glenn Grothman
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 2nd district
In office
January 1973 – January 1979
Preceded by Myron Lotto
Succeeded by Don Hanaway
Personal details
Born (1940-05-28) May 28, 1940
Marinette, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Anne Neal
Alma mater Harvard University
Religion Lutheranism

Thomas Evert Petri (born May 28, 1940) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for Wisconsin's 6th congressional district from 1979 to 2015. He is a member of the Republican Party. On April 11, 2014, Petri announced he would not run for reelection.[1] Although Wisconsin's 6th District is strongly conservative, confirmed bachelor Glenn Grothman took over the seat from Petri in 2015.


  • Early life, education, and early career 1
  • Early political career 2
    • Wisconsin Senate 2.1
    • 1974 U.S. Senate election 2.2
  • U.S. House of Representatives 3
    • Elections 3.1
    • Tenure 3.2
    • Committee assignments in final term 3.3
  • Electoral history 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life, education, and early career

Born in Marinette, Wisconsin of German and Norwegian ancestry,[2] he graduated from Goodrich High School in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Petri then attended Harvard University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees. He served as a volunteer with the Peace Corps.[3]

Early political career

Wisconsin Senate

Petri served in the Wisconsin State Senate from 1973 to 1979.[4]

1974 U.S. Senate election

Petri ran for the U.S. Senate in 1974. He won the Republican primary with 85% of the vote.[5] In the general election, incumbent Democrat U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson defeated Petri 62%–36%. Petri only won five counties in the state.[6][7] In 1977–78, Petri made a run for governor for Wisconsin, but lost his party's convention nomination to Bob Kasten in 1978. Kasten lost the Republican primary to Lee Sherman Dreyfus, who won the general election over incumbent Marty Schreiber.

U.S. House of Representatives


In 1979, he won a special election to finish the term of the late U.S. Congressman William A. Steiger, who had died shortly after being re-elected in 1978. He won the seat in his own right in 1980 and has been reelected 16 times. He has only won re-election with less than 64% once, in 1992. That year, he defeated State Representative Peg Lautenschlager 53% to 47%. He won ten of the district's thirteen counties. He lost Manitowoc, Brown, and Outagamie counties.[8] He has run unopposed in 1990, 1994, 2002, and 2006. He faced no major-party opposition in 1986 and 1998. In April 2014, Petri announced he would not seek re-election in November 2014.[9]


Petri was a member of The Republican Main Street Partnership and supports stem-cell research, although he generally opposes abortion. Although he also has called for a moratorium on the death penalty, he has voted against other restrictions on it.[10] Petri was a member of the moderate [11] Republican conference, The Tuesday Group, and received a $10,000 contribution from The Tuesday Group in 2008 [12] as well as a $5,000 contribution in the 2012 cycle.[13]

On transportation issues, Petri was the author and sponsor of three surface transportation laws. He supported the laws that eliminated the 55-miles-per-hour speed limit and got rid of the Interstate Commerce Commission.[14]

Petri's three largest contributors in the 2012 campaign cycle were labor unions,[13] and Petri has often voted with labor unions on closely contested issues. Petri has repeatedly voted for Project Labor Agreements (PLAs),[15] and twice cast a deciding vote to allow the use of PLAs in government contracts.[16][17][18] Petri also voted to permit the use of taxpayer funds to comply with the Davis-Bacon Act,[19] voted to use federal funds for collective bargaining by the Transportation Security Administration,[20] and voted in favor of $233 million in taxpayer funding for the National Labor Relations Board.[21]

In 1994, Petri introduced H.R. 4469, titled "The Multicare Act of 1994", which would have greatly expanded the government's role in healthcare. This bill would have established federally funded government-run health insurance programs, and would have authorized states to require an individual to purchase insurance from one of these government-run insurance plans.[22] Petri continued to push for the passage of Multicare until 2004.[23]

In 2005, Petri voted to fund the "bridge to nowhere,"[24] and voted to prevent the drilling for oil in ANWR.[25]

On November 2, 2005, Petri voted against the Online Freedom of Speech Act.[26]

On January 18, 2007 Petri voted in favor of HR 6, which made it more difficult to obtain a lease to drill for oil domestically.[27]

On August 1, 2011, Petri voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011 which raised the nation's debt limit and included the creation of the "super committee" that was empowered to produce legislation that would be immune from amendments or filibuster.[28]

In 2011, Petri sponsored an amendment to allow Michigan based Badger Ferry to dump more than 500 tons of coal ash a year into Lake Michigan.[29] He received $14,751 in campaign donations from executives of Lake Michigan Carferry,[30][31] the owner of Badger Ferry.

In 2012, Petri inroduced H.R. 4148, titled "Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway National Heritage Area Act of 2012", which would place 1,444 square miles of land in Wisconsin under the control of the federal government.[32]

Petri endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2008 GOP presidential primary.[33] Petri subsequently endorsed John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

Petri was honored by U.S. English, Inc. in May 2008 for his votes and co-sponsorships of official English legislation in the 110th Congress.[34] Petri had previously sponsored legislation declaring English as an official language in 1999.[10]

In 2005, Petri introduced the Direct Loan Reward Act,[35] and in 2006 introduced the Student Aid Reward (STAR) Act.[36]

Petri has pushed for additional federal spending for Oshkosh Corporation while he bought stock in the company.[37] The third-most-senior Republican representative is under additional ethics violations scrutiny by the Office of Congressional Ethics in regard to another Wisconsin-based business, the Manitowoc Company, in which he owns a sizable financial interest.[38]

Committee assignments in final term

Caucus Membership
  • Congressional Arts Caucus

Electoral history

Wisconsin's 6th congressional district: Results 1980–2012[39][40][41][42]
Year Republican Votes % Democratic Votes % Third Party Party Votes % Third Party Party Votes %
1979 Tom Petri 71,715 50% Gary R. Goyke 70,492 50%
1980 Tom Petri 129,574 57% Gary R. Goyke 98,628 43%
1982 Tom Petri 111,348 65% Gordon Loeher 59,922 35%
1984 Tom Petri 170,271 76% David Iaquinta 54,266 24%
1986 Tom Petri 124,328 97% No candidate John Daggett Independent 4,268 3%
1988 Tom Petri 165,923 74% Joseph Garrett 57,552 26%
1990 Tom Petri 111,036 100% No candidate
1992 Tom Petri 143,875 53% Peggy Lautenschlager 128,232 47%
1994 Tom Petri 119,384 99% No candidate Scattering 603 1%
1996 Tom Petri 169,213 73% Floyd Brenholt 55,377 24% James Dean Libertarian 4,494 2% Timothy Farness U.S. Taxpayers 2,532 1%
1998 Tom Petri 144,144 93% No candidate Timothy Farness U.S. Taxpayers 11,267 7%
2000 Tom Petri 179,205 65% Dan Flaherty 96,125 35%
2002 Tom Petri 169,834 99% No candidate Scattering 1,327 1%
2004 Tom Petri 238,620 67% Jef Hall 107,209 30% Carol Rittenhouse Green 10,018 3%
2006 Tom Petri 201,367 99% No candidate Scattering 2,190 1%
2008 Tom Petri 221,875 64% Roger Kittelson 126,090 36%
2010 Tom Petri 183,271 71% Joe Kallas 75,926 29%
2012 Tom Petri 223,460 62% Joe Kallas 135,921 38%


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ 'Wisconsin Blue Book 1979-1980, Biographical Sketch of Thomas Petri, pg. 15
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ 'Wisconsin Blue Book 1975,' pg. 779, 815
  8. ^
  9. ^ 'U.S. Rep. Tom Petri won't seek re-election,' Milwaukee Sentinel Journal, Jason Stein, Patrick Marley, Don Walker, April 11, 2014
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^ Tuesday Group PAC Expenditures Accessed January 20, 2012
  13. ^ a b Top 20 Contributors – Representative Tom Petri 2011 – 2012 Accessed January 17, 2012
  14. ^
  15. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 396 House Clerk. June 3, 2011. Accessed January 14, 2012
  16. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 126 House Clerk. February 19, 2011. Accessed January 14, 2012
  17. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 413 House Clerk. June 13, 2011. Accessed January 14, 2012
  18. ^ Red State: Dozens of Republicans Vote for Handouts to Big Labor June 14, 2011. Accessed January 14, 2012
  19. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 395 House Clerk. June 2, 2011. Accessed January 17, 2012
  20. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 403 House Clerk. June 2, 2011. Accessed January 17, 2012
  21. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 75 House Clerk. February 17, 2011. Accessed January 17, 2012
  22. ^ H.R. 4469 (103rd): Multicare Act of 1994 Accessed June 24, 2012
  23. ^
  24. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 65 House Clerk. March 10, 2005. Accessed January 14, 2012
  25. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 122 House Clerk. April 20, 2005. Accessed January 14, 2012
  26. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 559 House Clerk. November 2, 2005. Accessed January 14, 2012
  27. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 40 House Clerk. January 18, 2007. Accessed June 27, 2012
  28. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 690 House Clerk. August 1, 2011. Accessed April 5, 2012
  29. ^ Groups oppose Badger ferry's effort for pollution exemption Bergquest, Lee. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel November 8, 2011. Accessed January 20, 2012
  30. ^ Individuals Who Gave To: PETRI, THOMAS – Whose Last Name Begins With 'A-E' Accessed January 20, 2012
  31. ^ Individuals Who Gave To: PETRI, THOMAS – Whose Last Name Begins With 'K-O' Accessed January 20, 2012
  32. ^ H.R. 4148: Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway National Heritage Area Act of 2012 Accessed June 24, 2012
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ House, Billy (September 30, 2014). "Ethics Committee will Continue investigation of Tom Petri" National Journal. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Jerris Leonard
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Wisconsin
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Bob Kasten
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bill Steiger
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
Glenn Grothman
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