|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Wisconsin's 6th district
April 3, 1979 - January 3, 2015
|Member of the Wisconsin Senate|
from the 2nd district
January 1973 - January 1979
Thomas Evert Petri
May 28, 1940
Marinette, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Education||Harvard University (A.B., J.D.)|
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Petri was born in Marinette, Wisconsin. When he was a toddler, his father, a Navy flyer and lieutenant during World War II, was lost during a mission over the Atlantic. Petri, his infant brother, and his widowed mother moved to Fond du Lac, where Petri's mother taught in the Fond du Lac public schools. He represented his high school as a delegate to the youth government and leadership program Badger Boys State in 1957.
Petri ran for the U.S. Senate in 1974. He won the Republican primary with 85% of the vote. During the campaign, Petri walked across the state of Wisconsin as part of his grassroots strategy. In the general election, incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson defeated Petri 62%-36%. Petri took five of 72 counties in the state.
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 defeated fellow state senator Gary Goyke by only 1,200 voters. He won the seat in his own right in 1980, taking 57 percent of the vote in a rematch with Goyke.
Petri and was reelected 16 times. The only time he faced a race anywhere near as close as his 1979 contest came in 1992. That year, he defeated State Representative Peg Lautenschlager 53% to 47%. It would be the only reelection contest in which he won less than 65 percent of the vote. He won ten of the district's thirteen counties. He lost Manitowoc, Brown, and Outagamie counties. He ran 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.
Petri was a member of The Republican Main Street Partnership and supports stem-cell research, although he generally opposes abortion. He called for a moratorium on the death penalty, but voted against other restrictions on it. Petri was a member of the moderate  Republican conference, The Tuesday Group, and received a $10,000 contribution from the group in 2008  and $5,000 in 2012.
Petri's three largest contributors in the 2012 campaign cycle were labor unions. He voted for Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and twice voted 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 in taxpayer funding for the National Labor Relations Board.
In 1994, Petri introduced H.R. 4469, "The Multicare Act of 1994". 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. Petri continued to push for the passage of Multicare until 2004.
In 2005, Petri voted to fund the "Gravina Island Bridge", and voted to prevent the drilling for oil in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
On November 2, 2005, Petri voted against the Online Freedom of Speech Act.
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.
In 2011, Petri sponsored an amendment to allow Michigan-based Badger Ferry to continue operating on Lake Michigan dumping more than 500 tons of coal ash a year into the lake. He had received $14,751 in campaign donations from executives of Lake Michigan Carferry, the owner of Badger Ferry. The Environmental Protection Agency and Badger Ferry came to agreement in 2013 to modifying coal-dumping procedures within two years. Badger Ferry, the oldest continuously operating coal ferry in the United States, announced in 2015 that is would continue operating without dumping coal in Lake Michigan.
On August 1, 2011, Petri voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011, which raised the nation's debt limit and created the United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
Petri headed the Congressional British-American Parliamentary Exchange Group, which coordinated annual meetings between members of Congress and Parliament.
In the 112th Congress and the 113th Congress, Petri introduced the ExCEL Act, which would have created a universal income-contingent student loan repayment process, where students repaid loans based on their after college earnings. Petri's bill received bipartisan and bicameral support.
In 2012, Petri introduced H.R. 4148, the 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.
In 2014, Petri was investigated for advocating for a constituent company, Oshkosh Corporation, in which he held stock. He was also under scrutiny in regard to another Wisconsin-based business, The Manitowoc Company, in which he had a financial interest. Although the Office of Congressional Ethics found reason to believe Petri violated House rules and standards, the House Ethics Committee disagreed, voting not to impose sanctions on him.
|Year||Republican||Votes||%||Democratic||Votes||%||Third Party||Party||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%||Scattering||103||0%|
|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%||Scattering||364||0%|
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 an official language in 1999.
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Wisconsin
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 6th congressional district