Wisconsin Public Radio

Thompson Won’t Run For Governor

Former governor, 80, could have shaken up the Republican primary.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Apr 18th, 2022 02:04 pm
Tommy Thompson at Spotlight Health Aspen Ideas Festival 2015. Photo by Bluerasberry / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0).

Tommy Thompson at Spotlight Health Aspen Ideas Festival 2015. Photo by Bluerasberry / (CC BY-SA).

Former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson announced Monday he won’t seek the GOP nomination for governor this year, avoiding another major shakeup for Republicans ahead of the November election.

Thompson, a giant of Wisconsin politics who was elected to four terms as governor beginning in 1986, had openly toyed with the idea of seeking a fifth term this year. While it was hardly the first time Thompson had mulled a return to politics, he considered it seriously enough that he reportedly visited former President Donald Trump to discuss the race.

But in a statement released Monday, Thompson said that after “much thought and difficult deliberation,” he had decided against another race for governor.

“This is a very difficult conclusion,” Thompson said in the written statement. “After a full life of service and leading and growing businesses, I know I have the vision, drive and vitality to serve another term as governor. Wisconsin needs strong leadership to bridge political divides, care for our most vulnerable, set our economy on a path to succeed in the 21st-century, and again make us the shining star of the nation. I would have brought those qualities and commitment as governor.”

Thompson, 80, said he would “continue to investigate” how he might otherwise serve.

Thompson got his start in Wisconsin politics more than a half-century ago, winning a seat in the state Legislature in 1966.

Thompson was first elected governor in 1986 and left the office after former President George W. Bush tapped him to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Thompson ran a short-lived campaign for president in 2007, officially ending his bid in early 2008.

In his last statewide campaign for office, he emerged from a bruising four-way GOP primary for U.S. Senate in 2012 only to lose in the general election to Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Most recently, Thompson made a return to the public eye by serving as interim president of the University of Wisconsin System.

A handful of Republicans are seeking the GOP nomination for governor in 2022, including former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, former U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson and state Rep. Timothy Ramthun.

The winner will take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in November.

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.

Tommy Thompson won’t run for Wisconsin governor in 2022 was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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