Monday, September 26th, 2016

Ed Thompson, RIP

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Former candidate for governor Ed Thompson lost his battle with cancer. He was 66. Ed Thompson was perhaps less famous than his brother, former Governor Tommy Thompson, but he made a name for himself in Wisconsin political lore.

Thompson became a cause célèbre in northern Wisconsin when his Tee Pee supper club was raided by the police because of the presence of video gaming machines and the possibility there were payouts to the winners, alleged illegal gambling activity. Thompson’s case drew statewide attention to the plight of restaurant owners in northern Wisconsin attempting to compete with the local Indian casinos. The judge could not find a jury and the case was dismissed, much to the chagrin of the district attorney.

In 2002, Thompson ran an unfortunate campaign for governor as the Libertarian Party candidate. The race not only contributed to the defeat of acting Governor Scott McCallum, but Thompson’s showing allowed a Libertarian Party member on the state elections board. The misguided Libertarian then cast the deciding vote against former Congressman Mark Green’s use of federal funds for his campaign for governor in 2006, despite the allowance of the use of federal funds before.

In 2005, Thompson’s popularity in Tomah put him on the city council with 90% of the vote despite not even running. In 2008, Thompson was elected mayor of Tomah.

Unfortunately, hanging out with the Libertarians led Thompson into the fever swamps of politics when he gave credence to the September 11 conspiracy theorists, a strong voice in Libertarian Party politics.

In 2010, Thompson challenged State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, this time running as a Republican. Unfortunately Thompson was diagnosed with cancer during the campaign, which he announced in September of 2010. Unable to campaign as strongly as Republicans hoped, Thompson’s loss was one of the few disappointments for the Republican Party of Wisconsin in 2010. Despite the cancer and the strong Democratic hold on the district, Thompson came within 352 votes of winning.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that instead of flowers, “anybody wishing to memorialize him could do so by making a contribution to the Community Thanksgiving Dinner he founded.”

Our condolences to the Thompson family and to the residents of Tomah.

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