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Birthdate: Nov. 19, 1941
Birth Place: Elroy, WI, United States
Residence: Madison, WI
Religion: Roman Catholic
Tommy Thompson was born in Elroy, Wis., and currently resides in Madison. He received a bachelor's degree and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He won election to the state Assembly in 1966 and rose to become assistant minority leader. In 1979, Thompson ran for Congress in the 6th District but lost to Tom Petri, who still holds the seat.
In 1986, after 20 years in the Assembly, Thompson ran for governor, emerging from a field of five Republicans in the primary and defeating Democratic Gov. Tony Earl in the general election.
Thompson was re-elected four times. Midway through his fourth term, in 2001, Thompson left the office to serve as President George W. Bush's secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Thompson left that post in 2005 and joined a number of corporate and health care boards, and a Washington lobbying firm where he worked as an attorney.
In 2007, Thompson launched a brief campaign for president but dropped out due to a lack of funding and support.
Thompson and his wife, Sue, have three children.
Tommy Thompson has been involved in Wisconsin politics since he graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School. After last holding elected office in 2001, Thompson is making a political comeback, seeking a Senate seat.
Thompson ran for president briefly in 2007, but his campaign was mired by several gaffes and a lack of support and fundraising. Thompson toyed with running for the Senate in 2010, but stayed out of the race citing opposition from his family. At that time he indicated that his political career may be coming to a close, but in 2011 at the age of 69 he decided for another go, this time launching his bid for the open Senate seat caused by the retirement of Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl.
In 2012, Thompson won a four-way GOP primary with just 34 percent of the vote, forced to take more conservative stances to appeal to Republican primary voters. Thompson also had to defend his record as governor, including the spending increases and his close work with public unions.
Thompson also came out in opposition to the 2010 health care reform bill, even though he had previously voiced support for elements of it.
Thompson also tried to tamp down concerns about his age and health during the campaign, at one point dropping down and doing 50 push ups on camera at a meeting of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board.
Referred to affectionately as "The Boy from Elroy," because of the small Wisconsin town where he grew up, Thompson won election to the state Assembly in 1966. In the early years, Thompson rose through the ranks to become assistant minority leader. Using a variety of procedural maneuvers to stymie the will of the Democratic majority at the time, Thompson earned the nickname "Dr. No."
In 1979, Thompson ran for Congress in the 6th District but was defeated in the Republican primary by Tom Petri, who continued to hold the seat into the 2012 election.
Undaunted, Thompson stayed in the legislature until his first run for governor in 1986. He won that year, defeating incumbent Gov. Tony Earl, the first of four times he would win during his 14-year term.
Thompson's time as governor was marked both by a booming economy and his overhaul of the state's welfare system and passing the nation's first school voucher program in 1990. Thompson enacted the commitment by the state to pay for two-thirds of public school costs in exchange for lower property taxes. He also created the state BadgerCare program, which provides low-cost medical and prescription drug benefits to senior citizens.
State spending doubled during Thompson's time as governor. Wisconsin also added more than 700,000 jobs under his watch.
Thompson left in 2001 to become President George W. Bush's secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. He was in that post at the time of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and led the nationwide effort to ensure enough vaccine was on hand following a rash of anthrax poisonings.
Thompson resigned at the end of Bush's term and joined the private sector. He worked as an attorney for the Akin Gump lobbying and law firm in Washington, D.C., and also joined several private health company firms and boards, where he earned millions of dollars over the ensuing decade.
Source: Associated Press
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