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Jim Doyle

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Jim Doyle
Doyle in 2009
44th Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 6, 2003 – January 3, 2011
LieutenantBarbara Lawton
Preceded byScott McCallum
Succeeded byScott Walker
41st Attorney General of Wisconsin
In office
January 7, 1991 – January 6, 2003
GovernorTommy Thompson
Scott McCallum
Preceded byDon Hanaway
Succeeded byPeg Lautenschlager
District Attorney of Dane County
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1982
Preceded byHumphrey Lynch
Succeeded byHarold Harlowe
Personal details
James Edward Doyle, Jr.

(1945-11-23) November 23, 1945 (age 78)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseJessica Laird
RelationsJames Edward Doyle (father)
Ruth Bachhuber Doyle (mother)
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin, Madison (BA)
Harvard University (JD)

James Edward Doyle Jr. (born November 23, 1945) is an American attorney and politician who served as the 44th governor of Wisconsin from 2003 to 2011. In his first election to the governorship, he narrowly defeated incumbent Republican governor Scott McCallum. Although in 2002 Democrats increased their number of governorships, Doyle was the only one of them to unseat a Republican.

Prior to the governorship, Doyle served as Wisconsin Attorney General from 1991 to 2003. He is currently an attorney 'of counsel' in the Madison, Wisconsin office of the law firm of Foley & Lardner and serves on the corporate board of Epic Systems and Exact Sciences.[1][2]

Early life and education


Jim Doyle was born on November 23, 1945, in Washington, D.C., the son of Ruth Bachhuber Doyle and James Edward Doyle, who were influential leaders of the post-1946 Democratic Party of Wisconsin.[3] Doyle Sr. ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1954 and was appointed as a federal judge in 1965. Ruth Bachhuber Doyle was the first woman from Dane County to be elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1948.

Doyle, who graduated from Madison West High School in 1963, attended Stanford University for three years, then returned home to Madison to finish his senior year at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. After graduating from college and inspired by John F. Kennedy's call to public service, Doyle worked as a teacher with his wife, Jessica Doyle in Tunisia as part of the Peace Corps from 1967 to 1969.

In 1972, Doyle earned his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. He then moved to the Navajo Indian Reservation in Chinle, Arizona, where he worked as an attorney in a federal legal services office.

Early political career


In 1975, Doyle returned to Madison, Wisconsin, and served three terms as Dane County District Attorney, from 1977 to 1982. After leaving that office, he spent eight years in private practice. Doyle was elected Wisconsin Attorney General in 1990, and reelected in 1994 and 1998. Between 1997 and 1998, he served as the president of the National Association of Attorneys General. During his twelve years as attorney general, Doyle was considered tough on crime,[4] but not unsympathetic to its causes. He also gained recognition as a result of several successful lawsuits against tobacco companies in the state.

Campaigns for governor


2002 gubernatorial election


Doyle ran against Republican Scott McCallum, the former lieutenant governor who had assumed the office of governor in 2001 after Tommy Thompson left to become Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Bush administration.

The 2002 governor's race is considered by some to have been the most negative campaign in the state's history.[who?] In response, Libertarian Ed Thompson (brother of Tommy), publicly critical of the negative campaigning of both major party candidates, who became a more viable option for some voters,[5] garnered 10% of the vote.

Doyle giving a speech in 2005

On election day, Doyle defeated McCallum by over four percent of the vote, becoming the first Democratic governor in the state since Anthony Earl was defeated in 1986. Doyle was sworn in on January 6, 2003 at the State Capitol in Madison.

2006 gubernatorial election


Doyle defeated Republican Congressman Mark Green in 2006. Doyle topped Green 53% to 45% in a year in which no incumbent Democratic governor, senator, or congressman lost their reelection bid.

During the campaign, Doyle was dogged by charges that Georgia Thompson, a state employee, had steered a travel agency contract to a firm whose principals had donated $20,000 to his campaign. Thompson was convicted in federal court in late 2006 and sentenced to 18 months in prison.[6] The conviction was reversed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in April 2007, with one judge calling the U.S. Attorney's case "beyond thin".[7]


Doyle announcing his decision not to seek reelection

Doyle raised about $500,000 for a campaign fund in the first half of 2007, leading political analysts to think he would have been financially ready to run for a third term as governor. In a speech to the state Democratic Party convention on July 6, 2007, he said, "And at the end of these four years of working together, who knows, maybe we'll need four more."[8] He had changed his campaign website to JimDoyle2010.com, which had been seen a further indication of a re-election run. However, on August 17, 2009, Doyle announced that he would not seek a third term.[9]

Governor of Wisconsin

Doyle on board a UH-60 Blackhawk viewing 2008 flood damage.
Doyle (right) with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in 2009

Upon Doyle's taking office, Wisconsin faced a $3.2 billion deficit. The state ended the year 2003 with a deficit of $2.15 billion. Proposals for new programs were constrained by continued budget-cutting and his decision to honor a campaign pledge to not raise taxes. Facing political pressure,[10] he signed a property tax freeze that has resulted in an anticipated decrease in average statewide property taxes in 2003.[11] Doyle's stated priorities were investing in public schools, including the University of Wisconsin System; lowering property taxes; regional economic development; transportation reform; and funding of stem cell research.

Doyle speaks during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

On January 2, 2009, Doyle joined the governors of four states in urging the federal government to provide $1 trillion in aid to the country's 50 state governments to help pay for education, welfare and infrastructure as states struggled with steep budget deficits amid a deepening recession.[12]

On May 19, 2009, Doyle proposed a 75-cent-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax, an "assessment" against oil companies to help pay for road improvements, imposition of sales tax on music downloads and cell phone ringtones, and a 1 percent hike in the state income tax for individuals earning above $300,000 a year (approximately 1 percent of the state's population).[13]

Doyle served as chair of the Midwestern Governors Association in 2007.

In October 2007, the Republican-led Assembly, Democratic-controlled Senate, and Governor Doyle passed a balanced budget that approved transferring $200 million from a medical malpractice fund to the Medical assistance trust fund. In July 2010, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the transfer was illegal and that the state must restore the money to the malpractice fund.[14]

Personal life and family


Jim Doyle is a fifth generation state officeholder in Wisconsin. His mother, Ruth Bachhuber Doyle, represented Dane County in the Wisconsin State Assembly in the 1940s; his maternal grandfather, Frank E. Bachhuber, represented Marathon County in the Assembly in the 1930s; his great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather, Andrew Bachhuber and Max Bachhuber, represented Dodge County in the Assembly in the 19th century.[15]

Doyle is married to Jessica Laird Doyle, niece of former Congressman Melvin Laird, and great-granddaughter of William D. Connor, who was lieutenant governor of Wisconsin from 1907–1909,[16] and great-great-granddaughter of Wisconsin State Representative Robert Connor.[17] They have two adopted sons, Gus and Gabe, a daughter-in-law, Carrie, a grandson, Asiah, and granddaughters Lily and Lucy.[18]

Electoral history


Wisconsin Attorney General (1990, 1994, 1998)

Wisconsin Attorney General Election, 1990[19]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Primary, September 11, 1990
Democratic Jim Doyle 106,050 56.29%
Democratic William Te Winkle 82,337 43.71%
Total votes 188,387 100.0%
General Election, November 6, 1990
Democratic Jim Doyle 687,283 50.87% +4.93%
Republican Don Hanaway (incumbent) 635,835 47.06% −4.89%
Labor–Farm Patricia K. Hammel 27,948 2.07%
Plurality 51,448 3.81% -2.21%
Total votes 1,351,066 100.0% -6.56%
Democratic gain from Republican
Wisconsin Attorney General Election, 1994[20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
General Election, November 8, 1994
Democratic Jim Doyle (incumbent) 805,334 52.52% +1.65%
Republican Jeff Wagner 709,927 46.30% −0.76%
Libertarian Steven S. Deibert 18,089 1.18%
Plurality 1,533,350 100.0% +13.49%
Total votes 1,533,350 100.0% +13.49%
Democratic hold
Wisconsin Attorney General Election, 1998[21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
General election, November 3, 1998
Democratic Jim Doyle (incumbent) 1,111,773 64.90% +12.38%
Republican Linda Van de Water 565,073 32.99% −13.31%
Constitution James Chinavare 18,881 1.10%
Libertarian Ronald T. Emery 17,306 1.01% −0.17%
Plurality 546,700 31.91% +25.69%
Total votes 1,713,033 100.0% +11.72%
Democratic hold

Wisconsin Governor (2002, 2006)

Wisconsin Gubernatorial Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Primary, September 10, 2002[22]
Democratic Jim Doyle 212,066 26.39%
Democratic Tom Barrett 190,605 23.72%
Democratic Kathleen Falk 150,161 18.69%
Scattering 802 0.14%
Total votes 553,634 100.0% +152.90%
General Election, November 5, 2002[23]
Democratic Jim Doyle
/ Barbara Lawton
800,515 45.09% +6.39%
Republican Scott McCallum (incumbent)
/ M. A. Farrow (incumbent)
734,779 41.39% −18.28%
Libertarian Ed Thompson
/ M. Reynolds
185,455 10.45% +9.82%
Green Jim Young
/ Jeff Peterson
44,111 2.48% +2.48%
Reform Alan D. Eisenberg 2,847 0.16%
Independent Ty A. Bollerud 2,637 0.15%
Independent Mike Managan 1,710 0.10%
Independent Aneb Jah Rasta 929 0.05%
Scattering 2,366 0.13%
Plurality 65,736 3.71% -17.27%
Turnout 1,775,349 45.43% +1.10%
Democratic gain from Republican
Wisconsin Gubernatorial Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
General Election, November 7, 2006[24]
Democratic Jim Doyle (incumbent)
/ Barbara Lawton (incumbent)
1,139,115 52.70% +7.39%
Republican Mark Green
/ Jean Hundertmark
979,427 45.31% +3.92%
Green Nelson Eisman
/ Leon Todd
40,709 1.88% −0.60%
Scattering 2,449 0.11%
Plurality 159,688 3.71% +3.68%
Turnout 2,161,700 53.19% +7.76%
Democratic hold


  • Laird, Helen L., 'A Mind of Her Own Helen Connor Laird and Her Family 1888–1982' The University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.


  1. ^ "James E. Doyle". Foley & Lardner LLP. Archived from the original on 2011-12-13. Retrieved 2016-04-11.
  2. ^ Ferral, Katelyn. "Epic Systems gets a win in U.S. Supreme Court decision limiting workers' ability to sue employers". madison.com. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  3. ^ "Obituary: Doyle, Ruth Bachhuber". Madisonwest61.com. Archived from the original on February 14, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  4. ^ Davidoff, Judith (13 October 2010). "Jim Doyle's final report card". madison.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  5. ^ "2002 General Election for Governor – McCallum & Doyle". Wisconsin Broadcasting Museum. January 22, 2014. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  6. ^ Steven Walters and Patrick Marley (September 23, 2006). "18-month sentence in travel scandal". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on June 1, 2008. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  7. ^ Adam Cohen (April 16, 2007). "A Woman Wrongly Convicted and a U.S. Attorney Who Kept His Job". New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  8. ^ "Local topics". Archived from the original on February 20, 2008.
  9. ^ Bergquist, Lee; Forster, Stacy; Marley, Patrick (2009-08-15). "Doyle won't seek re-election in 2010". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2012-10-13. Retrieved 2016-04-11.
  10. ^ "Jim Doyle's Freeze". Wisconsin Real Estate Magazine. March 2005. Archived from the original on 2013-04-16. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  11. ^ "Typical Homeowner to See No Increase in December Property Tax Bill, New Analysis Shows". Wisgov.state.wi.us. September 13, 2006. Archived from the original on February 28, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  12. ^ "Hungry for real news?". NewsFetish.com. Archived from the original on 2011-02-21. Retrieved February 18, 2011.[verification needed]
  13. ^ Petrie, Bob (2009-02-21). "Doyle defends tax increase proposals". Sheboygan Press. Archived from the original on 2009-02-24.
  14. ^ Bauer, Scott (2010-07-20). "Court says Wis. must repay malpractice fund $200". Businessweek. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2016-04-11.
  15. ^ "Doyle, Ruth Bachhuber". Wisconsin State Journal. May 7, 2006. p. 24. Retrieved August 27, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ "Doyle, Jessica Laird, 1945". Dictionary of Wisconsin History. Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  17. ^ "blank". www.laonahistory.com. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  18. ^ "James Doyle (Wisconsin)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  19. ^ Barish, Lawrence S.; Theobald, H. Rupert, eds. (1991). "Elections in Wisconsin". State of Wisconsin 1991–1992 Blue Book (Report). Madison, Wisconsin: State of Wisconsin. pp. 891, 908. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  20. ^ Barish, Lawrence S., ed. (1995). "Elections in Wisconsin". State of Wisconsin 1995–1996 Blue Book (Report). Madison, Wisconsin: State of Wisconsin. pp. 894, 913. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  21. ^ Barish, Lawrence S.; Meloy, Patricia E., eds. (1999). "Elections in Wisconsin". State of Wisconsin 1999–2000 Blue Book (Report). Madison, Wisconsin: State of Wisconsin. pp. 890, 913. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  22. ^ "Results of Fall Primary Election - 09/10/2002". Wisconsin State Elections Board. September 24, 2002. p. 1. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  23. ^ Results of Fall General Election - 11/05/2002 (Report). Wisconsin State Elections Board. December 2, 2002. p. 1. Retrieved May 19, 2023 – via Wisconsin Historical Society.
  24. ^ Results of Fall General Election - 11/07/2006 (Report). Wisconsin State Elections Board. December 11, 2006. p. 1. Retrieved May 19, 2023 – via Wisconsin Historical Society.
Legal offices
Preceded by Attorney General of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Attorney General of Wisconsin
1990, 1994, 1998
Succeeded by
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Wisconsin
2002, 2006
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas former Governor Order of precedence of the United States Succeeded byas former Governor