Another GOP Moderate Bites the Dust

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

As a teenager in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., was the host of a popular Wisconsin radio show called Teen Time.
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Billy House
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Billy House
April 11, 2014, 2:55 p.m.

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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