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Editorial: A new role for Thompson

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Former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson has the knowledge and experience to represent Wisconsin well in the U.S. Capitol. He also has a proven track record.

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The former state representative from Elroy, Wis., stood firm on many issues -- too firm according to those who called him "Dr. No" in his early political career -- but he learned to recognize and tout others' leadership abilities, regardless of political party. Longtime political observers will recall when as minority leader he nominated Democrat Tom Loftus for Assembly speaker in the 1980s. The vote was unanimous.

Thompson advanced to serve as a popular governor from 1987 until 2001, working with people on both sides of the political fence. There he again demonstrated leadership and the ability to compromise.

After his stint in the governor's office, Thompson served as the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services -- in part as recognition for devising the state system today known as Badger Care.

The appointment was timely: He provided a voice of reason during the anthrax scare that came on the heels of 9/11. His knowledge of state and federal systems as well as understanding the need for reforms would be helpful as the country deals with health care issues.

Thompson also had a strong pro-business record as Wisconsin's governor. He could complement his Midwest counterparts, including Amy Klobuchar if she wins re-election as expected, in keeping the heartland's job climate strong.

While Thompson has learned the value of compromise, Democratic opponent Tammy Baldwin apparently has not. She's considered by many to be the most liberal member of Congress. That may be what people in her hometown of Madison want, but recently elections indicate that most Wisconsinites do not.

The race is tight, but considering the two candidates people should not be surprised to see Wisconsin voters return Thompson to public office.

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