A native of Elroy, Wisconsin, he was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in 1966 and became minority leader in 1981. He won election as governor in 1986 and won an unprecedented four terms, which makes him the longest-serving governor in Wisconsin history. As governor, he remained committed to a strong university system, faculty research, and the Wisconsin Idea. He stepped down during his fourth term to become United States Health and Human Services secretary under President George W. Bush, a role where he oversaw an increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health and enhanced local public health preparedness. Following his term in public office, he has focused on efforts to develop innovative solutions to the health care challenges facing American families, businesses, communities, states and the nation as a whole. Thompson earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from UW-Madison.