Tommy G. Thompson

Gov. Tommy G. Thompson


January 5, 1987 - February 1, 2001

November 19, 1941


University of Wisconsin

NGA Chair

Birth State

National Office(s) Served:
Cabinet secretary

Military Service:

Married Sue Ann Thompson; three children


“The longest serving governor in Wisconsin history,” TOMMY G. THOMPSON was born in Elroy, Wisconsin. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1963 and his law degree in 1966 from the University of Wisconsin. He is a former Army captain and a former member of the U.S. Army Reserve. Thompson was first elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in 1966 and was elected assistant minority leader in 1973. In 1981 he was elected Republican floor leader. In November 1986, he was elected governor and he was reelected in November 1990, 1994 and 1998. He is the recipient of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 1991 “Thomas Jefferson Award,” the American Legion’s 1998 “National Award for Americanism,” and the 1998 “Horatio Alger Award.” He chaired the Amtrak Board of Governors and co-chaired ACHIEVE, a resource center for governors and business leaders on academic standards, assessment, accountability, and technology. Governor Thompson chaired the Council of State Governments, the Republican Governors Association, the Council of Great Lakes Governors, the Midwestern Governors’ Conference and the USTR Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee. He chaired the National Governors Association 1995-1996. In 1996, Governor Thompson enacted Wisconsin Works, or “W-2,” the state’s landmark welfare-to-work legislation, which served as a national model for welfare reform. The program required participants to work, while at the same time providing the services and support to make the transition to work feasible and permanent. He went on to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during President George W. Bush’s first term.


Governors of the American States, Commonwealths and Territories, National Governors' Association, 2000.

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Wisconsin Historical Society