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Former WI Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Ed Thompson Has Passed Away

Ed Thompson, 66 at the time of his death, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer early this morning. From his Facebook page:

Ed Thompson passed away early Saturday morning at his home in Tomah. He wanted to thank all of you for this outpouring of support this past year. Details on the visitation and funeral will follow shortly.

Thompson has a storied political history in Wisconsin. The brother of former Governor and current candidate for US Senate Tommy Thompson, Ed’s career in elected office began unexpectedly. In 2005 he was elected to the City Council of his longtime home Tomah. Thompson won 31 write-in votes in a 34-vote election; unaware of the write-in campaign, he was one of three to vote for his opponent.

Thompson won election as Mayor of Tomah in 2008. In 2010 he ran for state Senate as a Republican against Democratic incumbent Kathleen Vinehout. The race garnered significant attention, but Thompson was limited in his ability to campaign after being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer two months before the election. He narrowly lost the race 50.27% to 49.61%.

Before holding office, Ed Thompson gained notoriety as a Libertarian gubernatorial candidate in 2002. He ran in a three-way race against Republican incumbent Scott McCallum and Democratic candidate and Attorney General Jim Doyle. Thompson had the strongest gubernatorial campaign of any Libertarian candidate in the history of the party; he won 11% on election day (Doyle won the race with 45% of the vote).

Although Thompson ran as a Republican for state Senate, he retained his connection with the libertarian movement. Thompson had ties to both the Campaign for Liberty and Republican Liberty Caucus. He also received the endorsement of Congressman Ron Paul, himself a former Libertarian presidential candidate.

Thompson was a veteran, enlisting in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. He also owned and operated the Tee Pee Supper Club for 19 years up to his death.

Thompson was interviewed by local reporter Mike Thompson shortly before his death. “With facing my death, the things that come to mind now for me are so different than they were, although I still run my business and I’m working at it the best I can and I deal with this illness that I have, it has absolutely no value to me,” he said.  “What has value is trying to live with all the energy of this moment we’re in.”

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  1. NewFederalist NewFederalist October 22, 2011

    Wow! I didn’t know he was sick. Rest in peace. He sure did a lot for the LP in Wisconsin.

  2. Starchild Starchild October 22, 2011

    RIP, Ed. The work you did for the freedom movement will live on. It was a pleasure to have known you, if only from seeing each other relatively briefly at Libertarian conventions, and my condolences to your family and friends.

  3. ralph swanson ralph swanson October 22, 2011

    We were working with him on a project to encourage people to get into appointive office as Libertarians worldwide. Super-nice guy.

  4. Thomas Hill Thomas Hill October 22, 2011

    Such sad news for the libertarian movement. Ed was loved by so many. May he was in peace.

  5. Thomas Hill Thomas Hill October 22, 2011

    May he rest in peace. Sorry.

  6. Chuck Moulton Chuck Moulton October 22, 2011

    I’m sorry to hear of his passing. He was a great asset to the libertarian movement.

  7. Nicholas Sarwark Nicholas Sarwark October 22, 2011

    His passing is a great loss to the movement.

  8. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi October 22, 2011

    Rest in peace, Ed.

    I’m pretty sure this bio — and Ed’s Wiki entry — are incomplete. He’d been Mayor of Tomah prior to running for guv in 2002. I’m pretty sure 05 and 08 were comebacks for him.

    Perhaps someone closer to Ed can clear this up….

  9. Wayne Root Wayne Root October 22, 2011

    How sad. What terrible news.

    I was caught completely unaware of Ed’s illness until just now hearing of his death.

    I’m shocked and saddened. He was such a great guy. Fought so hard for freedom. We never met, but spoke on the phone a few times. He was always a gentleman…and asset to the LP.

    My condolences to Ed’s family.

    God Bless,


  10. Aaron Aaron October 22, 2011

    Wish I could be there. Tomah is so far from where I live that it is impossible.

    Ed Thompson is an inspiration. I am lucky that he was both my friend and mentor. In early September, he wrote me via email and said, “Hi Aaron – so good to hear from you. I still love you and all the wonderful things you have said about me. I will never forget you. Keep up the fight for liberty – it is the only fight that really matters at this time.”

    God bless Ed Thompson. I know he is free from pain in a better place.

  11. Aaron Aaron October 22, 2011


    Ed requested that instead of flowers, anybody wishing to memorialize him could do so best by making a contribution to the Community Thanksgiving Dinner he founded. Donations may be sent in care of the Tee Pee Supper Club, 812 Superior Avenue, Tomah, WI 54660.

  12. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman October 22, 2011

    This is sad, and I wish the best for his family.

    He remained a libertarian to the end. As he ran for state Senate on the Republican ticket, he allowed Wisconsin NORML to hold meetings in his restaurant to plan their legalization campaign.

  13. Jimmy Jimmy October 22, 2011

    Very sad, prayers for his family.

  14. George Whitfield George Whitfield October 23, 2011

    Ed Thompson was an inspiration by his vigorous campaign for Governor as the Libertarian Party candidate and by the way he obviously connected with and was respected by his local community. He was an admirable person.

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