Reid Ribble and Tom Petri join more than 100 other prominent Republicans who say they’re willing to “hasten the creation” of an alternative to Trumpism.
Former President Donald Trump referred to Republicans who rebuked him as RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). Now 100 prominent Republicans—including two former Wisconsin congressmen—are apparently embracing that label as they say they’ll create an alternative party if the GOP doesn’t move away from Trumpism.
Reid Ribble served three terms in northeast Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District after first being elected in 2010. Tom Petri served 18 terms in the nearby 6th Congressional District, starting with his election in 1978.
Naming their group “A Call for American Renewal,” the founding members say they’re part of “a rallying cry for pragmatists everywhere.” They announced the group’s formation as House Republicans removed US Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) from a leadership position in their caucus because of her continued criticism of former President Donald Trump’s lies about last November’s presidential election.
Speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ribble said he was a co-writer of the group’s open letter that proclaimed, “Our nation’s future should not be dictated by a single person,” in its not-so-subtle criticism of Trump’s hold over the party rooted in falsehoods about the 2020 election that he lost.
But while the threat is made to bolt the GOP and create a new party, Ribble told the Journal Sentinel, “That’s not what I’m hoping for. I want to restore the Republican Party—away from its more extremist, populist approach to a more traditional, principle-driven constitutional approach.”
After Petri retired from Congress he joined his retired 7th Congressional District Democratic colleague Dave Obey on a speaking tour of the state aimed at promoting more bridge-building across partisan divides. In 2015, Obey said of the tour, “Tom and I are from an era where it was not a mortal sin to have a friend across the table.”
Besides former members of Congress, the “restore or replace” group includes former governors, Cabinet secretaries, state-level leaders, strategists, and more who criticize current Republican leaders for casting doubt on the integrity of US elections, attacking voting rights, and encouraging extremists who could again turn violent as was seen on January 6.