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Another GOP Moderate Bites the Dust Another GOP Moderate Bites the Dust

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Another GOP Moderate Bites the Dust

Rep. Tom Petri of Wisconsin will retire after 18 terms.


Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis.(Wikimedia Commons)

Rep. Tom Petri, a Wisconsin moderate who is the House's third-most-senior Republican, is announcing on Monday that he will not run this fall for another term.

The news was posted Friday afternoon on Petri's congressional website. The posting said the 73-year-old lawmaker will make the announcement at a town-hall meeting in Neenah, Wis.


The 18-term congressman will be the 24th House member to announce retirement this year, and the 14th Republican to do so.

Only Reps. Don Young of Alaska and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin have more seniority than Petri among House Republicans.

When Petri ran for the House in 1979, he beat Republican Tommy Thompson, then a state legislator, in the primary 35 percent to 19 percent, according to The Almanac of American Politics. Petri went on to win the special general election to succeed veteran GOP Rep. William Steiger.


Petri has since established a centrist voting record in the House, though he generally has aligned with his party against most of President Obama's major fiscal initiatives.

Over the years, some of his moderate stances are seen as having cost Petri his efforts to chair committees. For instance, after Democrats won control of the House in 2006, Petri was the most-senior member on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and hoped that he would assume the ranking Republican slot. The leadership passed him over for the more-partisan John Mica of Florida.

Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, couldn't resist taking a shot at House Republicans about the announcement.

"This brings to 12 the number of potentially competitive open seats House Republicans must defend, compared to only three for Democrats, as moderate Republicans continue to flee this Republican Congress and its wrong priorities that put special interests ahead of the middle class," Israel said in a statement.


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