Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2010, 2nd term.

Born: April 5, 1956, Neenah, WI

Home: Appleton, WI

Education: H.S., diploma, 1974; Grand Rapids Bible and Music Schl., attended.

Professional Career: Pres., The Ribble Group, 1981-2009.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Baptist

Family: Married (DeaNa) , 2 children ; 2 grandchildren

Republican Reid Ribble defeated two-term Democratic Rep. Steve Kagen in 2010 in his first bid for political office. Ribble has become known for his straight-talking manner, particularly when it comes to decrying partisan gridlock.

Ribble was raised in Appleton and was the youngest of eight children. He told National Journal that he got beaten up a lot as a youth, a consequence of his tendency to say exactly what was on his mind. His father was a World War II-era Marine who started a roofing business that still bears the family name. In high school, Ribble played volleyball and ran track; he later coached volleyball at Appleton East High School. After high school, he enrolled in Grand Rapids Bible and Music School, planning to join the Baptist ministry. But in 1976, when he was 20 years old, his father asked him to take over the business. Ribble left school and spent the next five years learning the ropes from his father, and in 1981, he became president of the company. He ran the firm for almost 30 years, until he sold it to his nephew in 2009.

Ribble got into the contest against Kagen as “just an American who is frustrated with the overall condition of the economy and state of the union,” he said. He campaigned as a conservative and an outsider. His campaign website included detailed position papers, which he said his professional consultants advised against posting. “I decided to go out on a limb and be a different type of candidate, and trust people to make the decision,” Ribble said. He was an attractive prospect to GOP recruiters because of his lack of a voting record and his ability to self-fund his campaign. In the Republican primary, Ribble dispatched two more-seasoned candidates who served in the Wisconsin House, winning with a hefty 48% of the vote.

In the general election campaign, Ribble criticized Kagen for his support of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and the Democratic energy bill that would put limits on carbon emissions. Kagen had served two terms in the swing district and had never gotten more than 54% of the vote. He raised $2 million and outspent Ribble 2-to-1. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also stepped in to help with an ad asserting that Ribble’s construction firm had gotten $300,000 in federal stimulus money to replace a school roof. While some endangered Democrats that year ran away from the party’s agenda in Congress, Kagen defended his vote for the health care bill, and he focused on reminding voters that Republican President George W. Bush was in charge when the economy went south in 2007. Still, Kagen lost the seat to Ribble, 55% to 45%.

In the House, Ribble generally has been a loyal Republican soldier, especially on fiscal issues. But in 2012, he showed a bit of an independent streak on other matters. He was one of 11 Republicans to join most Democrats in opposing a GOP amendment to try suspected terrorists at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay instead of in U.S. civilian courts. He also accepted an offer from liberal Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin that year to work on a successful effort to restore trade sanctions against several made-in-China paper products. “I knew she was going to run for the U.S. Senate,” he later told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But I cared more about solving a problem than the politics.”

Ribble joined the bipartisan Problem Solvers group spearheaded by former Utah GOP Gov. Jon Huntsman and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. In a December 2012 op-ed column, Ribble pointed the finger at those in his party whom he deemed inflexible on striking a budget deal. “Republicans must confront their own conventional wisdom that says, ‘The only way to shrink government is to starve it of resources,’” he wrote. He later told National Journal in February 2013 that partisanship and institutional incompetence were setting the stage for a third as well as possibly a fourth major political party to emerge. “I think we’re at the precipice of a breakdown of the two-party system,” he said.

Ribble’s 2012 opponent was Jamie Wall, a business consultant who accused him of failing to fight the planned closure of the Kewaunee Power Station while accepting contributions from the plant’s owner, Dominion Resources Inc. Ribble brushed off the allegation and charged that Wall’s campaign was “stalking” him after the Democrat’s supporters posted an online video of Ribble’s house. National Democrats decided to concentrate on other races, and Ribble won a comfortable 56%-44% reelection victory.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5665

(202) 225-5729

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1513
Washington, DC 20515-4908

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5665

(202) 225-5729

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1513
Washington, DC 20515-4908

DISTRICT OFFICE

(920) 380-0061

(920) 380-0051

333 West College Avenue
Appleton, WI 54911-5898

DISTRICT OFFICE

(920) 380-0061

(920) 380-0051

333 West College Avenue
Appleton, WI 54911-5898

DISTRICT OFFICE

(920) 471-1950

550 North Military Avenue Suite 4-B
Green Bay, WI 54303-4569

DISTRICT OFFICE

(920) 471-1950

550 North Military Avenue Suite 4B
Green Bay, WI 54303-4569

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

N7611 Lower Cliff Road
Sherwood, WI 54169-9701

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

N7611 Lower Cliff Road
Sherwood, WI 54169-9701

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Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Reid Ribble
Votes: 198,874
Percent: 56.0%
Jamie Wall
Votes: 156,287
Percent: 44.0%
2012 PRIMARY
Reid Ribble
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Reid Ribble
Votes: 143,998
Percent: 54.77%
Steve Kagen
Votes: 118,646
Percent: 45.12%
2010 PRIMARY
Reid Ribble
Votes: 38,521
Percent: 47.97%
Roger Roth
Votes: 25,704
Percent: 32.01%
Terri McCormick
Votes: 14,107
Percent: 17.57%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (55%)

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