James R. Thompson

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James R. Thompson
Governor James Thompson 3 (3x4).jpg
Thompson in 1987
Chair of the Intelligence Oversight Board
In office
February 26, 1990 January 20, 1993

Elections

1976 election

In the 1976 election, he won 65 percent of the vote over Democratic Secretary of State Michael Howlett, who had defeated incumbent Governor Dan Walker in the primary and who had the support of Chicago Mayor and Cook County Democratic Party chairman Richard J. Daley. Thompson was the first candidate for governor to receive over 3 million votes; his tally of 3,000,395 remains the largest number of votes ever cast for a candidate in an election for Governor of Illinois. His first term was for only two years because Illinois moved its gubernatorial election from presidential-election years to midterm-election years.

1978 and 1982 elections

Thompson as governor. James R. Thompson (IL).png
Thompson as governor.

Thompson was re-elected to a full four-year term in 1978 with 60 percent of the vote, defeating State Comptroller Michael Bakalis. In 1982, Thompson was very narrowly re-elected over former U.S. Senator Adlai E. Stevenson III. Thompson won the contest by only 5,074 votes. [9]

1986 election

A rematch in 1986 was expected to be almost as close, but the Democrats were severely hamstrung when supporters of Lyndon LaRouche won the Democratic nominations for lieutenant governor and secretary of state. Stevenson refused to appear on the same ticket as the LaRouchites, and formed the Solidarity Party with the support of the regular state Democratic organization. With the Democrats badly split, Thompson skated to victory in the general election. Thompson was accused of hiding the sad shape that Illinois' economy and budget were in while campaigning, but once elected, called for an emergency session of the Illinois legislature to address the crisis.[ citation needed ]

Tenure

Governor Thompson observing a military exercise, July 1986 Illinois Governor James R. Thompson observing Operation Haylift, July 1986.jpg
Governor Thompson observing a military exercise, July 1986

On November 12, 1980, Thompson, by his executive order, instituted a hiring freeze for all state agencies, boards, bureaus, and commissions under his control as governor. The order affected approximately 60,000 state positions.[ citation needed ]

These positions could only be filled if the candidates were first approved by an office created by Thompson, the Governor's Office of Personnel. Suit was brought and the Supreme Court held this political patronage practice unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment rights of low-level public employees in Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois, 497 U.S. 62 (1990).

In 1989, Governor Thompson agreed to establish a compounding, 3 percent cost-of-living increase for retirees from Illinois government jobs, including public school teachers. Years later, in an interview with a Chicago business magazine, Thompson said he never knew the cost might exceed $1 billion and likely would not have signed it if he had known. [10] In recent years, the cumulative effect of the 3 percent annual increases has been recognized as one of the major causes of Illinois' public employee pension crisis.

In 1993, the State of Illinois Center in Chicago was renamed the James R. Thompson Center to honor the former governor. [11]

Presidential speculations

During his tenure, Thompson was mentioned as a potential future candidate for President or Vice President. In 1978, The Washington Post declared that "[d]uring his first year of elective office, Gov. James R. Thompson has passed one test of a viable presidential candidate to oppose Jimmy Carter" in 1980. [12] Thompson did not run, but was reportedly considered as a running mate for Republican nominee Ronald Reagan. [13] A Chicago Tribune report in 1988 concluded that Thompson was very interested in serving as President, but felt that it was too soon for him to run in 1980 and unviable to run against Vice President George H. W. Bush in 1988. [14]

After leaving public service, Thompson joined Winston & Strawn, a major Chicago-based law firm. Thompson served as chairman of the executive committee from 1991 to 2006, as well as chairman and CEO of the firm from 1993 to 2006. He was senior chairman until January 31, 2015. [15]

As CEO of Winston & Strawn, he focused in the area of government relations and regulatory affairs. The firm has lobbied for American Airlines, and he previously represented United Airlines. [1]

Winston & Strawn is the same firm that represented former Illinois governor George Ryan pro bono against federal charges relating to the "Licenses-for-Bribes" scandal during Ryan's tenure as Illinois Governor and Secretary of State. Thompson acted as Ryan's lawyer personally. [16]

On April 17, 2006, Ryan was convicted on all 18 counts, which included racketeering, misusing state resources for political gain, and fraud. He was sentenced to 6½ years in federal prison and began serving his sentence on November 7, 2007. Ryan was released from federal prison on July 3, 2013. [17]

Thompson was also a director and head of the Audit Committee for Hollinger International, the media company founded by Conrad Black, which was the subject of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. [18]

Post-gubernatorial political activities

In 2002, he was appointed to serve on the 9/11 Commission, where he aggressively questioned Richard Clarke, the former chief counter-terrorism adviser on the United States National Security Council. [3] The report of the commission was released on July 22, 2004.

During the 2008 presidential primary campaign, Thompson announced his support for former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani for the 2008 Republican nomination.[ citation needed ] He stressed that Giuliani was the only Republican in the field who could win Illinois.[ citation needed ]

Death

After suffering heart issues, Thompson died on August 14, 2020, at the age of 84. [19] [20] [21] [22] In a tribute on Twitter, political consultant David Axelrod, who covered Thompson as a young journalist, described him as "one of the smartest and most formidable politicians I’ve ever known.” [23]

Awards

James R. Thompson was inducted as a laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the state's highest honor) by the governor of Illinois in 1991 in the area of Government. [24]

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References

  1. 1 2 "James Thompson, Partner". Winston & Strawn LLP. Archived from the original on September 7, 2013. Retrieved August 12, 2008.
  2. Steinberg, Neil (August 15, 2020). "Former Gov. James Thompson, a giant of Illinois politics, dead at 84". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved August 16, 2020.
  3. 1 2 Ripley, Amanda (April 5, 2004). "Chief Accuser: How Credible Is Clarke?". TIME. Archived from the original on December 10, 2005.
  4. Heritage of James R. Thompson: Governor of Illinois - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family History Library (Salt Lake City, Utah) Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family History Library, 1989
  5. "Info". ilga.gov. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  6. James R. Thompson (alumni exhibit) Northwestern University Archives. Retrieved September 9, 2021
  7. Benzkofer, Stephan. "First Illinois governor to do time was known as 'Mr. Clean,'" Chicago Tribune, Sunday, December 11, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2021
  8. 1 2 "Former Gov. James Thompson, a giant of Illinois politics, dead at 84". August 15, 2020.
  9. "ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT SETS DATE FOR ARGUMENTS ON GUBERNATORIAL; RECOUNT". The New York Times. December 14, 1982.
  10. "The Illinois Pension Disaster".{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. Kamin, Blair (November 18, 2017). "Fighting to save the Thompson Center with a movie camera". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  12. "Two Tests for 'Big Jim' Thompson". The Washington Post . February 1, 1978.
  13. "Reagan Campaign Looks to Running Mate". The Washington Post . May 13, 1980.
  14. Camper, John (May 13, 1988). "THOMPSON, BUSH HAVE A DREAM IN COMMON". Chicago Tribune.
  15. Bushey, Claire (February 24, 2015). "Thompson retiring from Winston & Strawn". Crain's Chicago Business . Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  16. Davey, Monica (May 28, 2008). "Ex-Governor, Now in Prison, Sees Case End". The New York Times . Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  17. "Former Ill. governor George Ryan released from custody". USA TODAY.
  18. "Ex-governor testifies in Hollinger trial". Los Angeles Times. May 2, 2007.
  19. Steinberg, Neil (August 15, 2020). "Former Gov. James Thompson, a giant of Illinois politics, dead at 84". Chicago Sun-Times.
  20. Cramer, Maria (August 15, 2020). "James R. Thompson, Longest-Serving Governor of Illinois, Dies at 84". The New York Times.
  21. Pearson, Rick; Sobol, Rosemary (August 15, 2020). "Former Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson dies at age 84. A Republican from Chicago, 'Big Jim' served 4 terms". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  22. Babwin, Don (August 15, 2020). "Former Illinois Gov. Thompson, who fought corruption, dies". Associated Press . Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  23. Cramer, Maria (August 15, 2020). "James R. Thompson, Longest-Serving Governor of Illinois, Dies at 84". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  24. "Laureates by Year - The Lincoln Academy of Illinois". The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Retrieved March 4, 2016.

Sources

Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of Illinois
1976, 1978, 1982, 1986
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Republican Governors Association
1981–1982
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Illinois
1977–1991
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the National Governors Association
1983–1984
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by
Glenn Campbell
Chair of the Intelligence Oversight Board
1990–1993
Succeeded by