Thomas Evert Petri (born May 28, 1940) is the U.S. Representative for Wisconsin's 6th congressional district, serving since 1979. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district includes most of the east-central part of the state.
Early life, education, and early career
Born in Marinette, Wisconsin, he graduated from Goodrich High School in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Petri then attended Harvard University, where he received his bachelors of arts and law degrees. He served as a volunteer with the Peace Corps.
Early political career
Petri served in the Wisconsin State Senate from 1973 to 1979.
1974 U.S. Senate election
Petri ran for the U.S. Senate in 1974. He won the Republican primary with 85% of the vote. In the general election, incumbent Democrat U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson defeated Petri 62%-36%.
Petri only won five counties in the state. 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 14 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. He has run unopposed in 1990, 1994, 2002, and 2006. He faced no major-party opposition in 1986 and 1998.
Petri is 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. Petri is also associated with the liberal Republican conference The Tuesday Group and received a $10,000 contribution from The Tuesday Group in 2008 as well as a $5,000 contribution so far in the current cycle.
Petri has been viewed as a political centrist as he frequently parts company with his party on major issues and has a steady track record of working with liberal Democrats to craft legislation.
Petri's three largest contributors in the 2012 campaign cycle are labor unions, and Petri has often voted with labor unions on closely contested issues.
Petri has repeatedly voted for Project Labor Agreements, and twice cast a deciding vote to allow the use of PLAs in government contracts. Petri also voted to permit the use of taxpayer funds to comply with the Davis-Bacon Act, voted to use federal funds for collective bargaining by the Transportation Security Administration, and voted in favor of $233 million dollars in taxpayer funding for the National Labor Relations Board.
In 2005, Petri voted to fund the "bridge to nowhere," and voted to prevent the drilling for oil in ANWR.
On November 2, 2005, Petri voted against the Online Freedom of Speech Act.
In 2011, Petri sponsored an amendment to allow Michigan based Badger Ferry dump more than 500 tons of coal ash a year into Lake Michigan, after having received $14,751 in campaign donations from executives of Lake Michigan Carferry, the owner of Badger Ferry.
Petri endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2008 GOP presidential primary. 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. Petri had previously sponsored legislation declaring English as an official language in 1999.
In 2005, Petri introduced the Direct Loan Reward Act, and in 2006 introduced the Student Aid Reward (STAR) Act.
March 20, 2012