Jim Doyle was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a law degree from Harvard University in 1972. Doyle and his wife, Jessica, served in the Peace Corps as teachers in Africa. Doyle also worked as an attorney in a federal legal services office on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Chinle, Arizona. He served three terms as Dane County district attorney from 1977 to 1982, and then built his own private law practice, handling a wide range of civil and criminal cases.
Doyle was elected Wisconsin attorney general in 1990, and reelected in 1994 and 1998. He was elected Governor of Wisconsin in 2002 and reelected in 2006, making him the first Democratic governor in Wisconsin to be reelected in 32 years. When Doyle became governor, Wisconsin was experiencing the largest deficit in the state’s history. While being committed to limiting the tax and other financial burdens on state residents in the areas of education and health care and pursuing financial incentives to attract and keep businesses and jobs in the state, Doyle took drastic cost-cutting and revenue raising actions to deal with the budget and overall economic crises, among them raising property taxes, levying additional sales taxes, and laying off and furloughing state workers.