Jim Doyle

For other people named James Doyle, see James Doyle (disambiguation).
Jim Doyle

Governor Doyle speaking to reporters in 2008
44th Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 7, 2003  January 3, 2011
Lieutenant Barbara Lawton
Preceded by Scott McCallum
Succeeded by Scott Walker
41st Attorney General of Wisconsin
In office
January 3, 1991  January 3, 2003
Governor Tommy Thompson
Scott McCallum
Preceded by Don Hanaway
Succeeded by Peg Lautenschlager
District Attorney of Dane County
In office
January 3, 1977  January 3, 1982
Preceded by Humphrey Lynch
Succeeded by Harold Harlowe
Personal details
Born James Edward Doyle
(1945-11-23) November 23, 1945
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jessica Laird
Children 2
Alma mater University of Wisconsin, Madison
Harvard University
Religion Roman Catholicism

James Edward "Jim" Doyle, Jr. (born November 23, 1945) is a Wisconsin politician and member of the Democratic Party. He was the 44th Governor of Wisconsin, serving from January 6, 2003 to January 3, 2011. He defeated incumbent Governor Scott McCallum by a margin of 45 percent to 41 percent; the Libertarian Party candidate Ed Thompson carried 10 percent of the vote. Although in 2002 Democrats increased their number of governorships, Doyle was the only one of them to unseat a sitting Republican governor. He is currently an attorney 'of counsel' in the Madison, Wisconsin office of the law firm of Foley & Lardner.[1]

Personal background

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.[2] James E. 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 (J.D.) degree 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.

Doyle is married to Jessica Laird Doyle, niece of former Congressman Melvin R. Laird, and great-granddaughter of William D. Connor, who was Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin from 1907–1909,[3] and great-great-granddaughter of Wisconsin State Assemblyman Robert Connor. They have two adopted sons, Gus and Gabe, a daughter-in-law Carrie, a grandson Asiah, and granddaughters Lily and Lucy.

Attorney general

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 1997–1998, 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, but not unsympathetic to its causes. He also gained recognition as a result of several successful lawsuits against tobacco companies in the state.

Campaign 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. 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, 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.[4] 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".[5]

2010 Gubernatorial Election

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."[6] 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.[7]


Doyle on board a UH-60 Blackhawk viewing 2008 flood damage.

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,[8] he signed a property tax freeze that has resulted in an anticipated decrease in average statewide property taxes in 2003.[9] 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.

In February 2007, Doyle proposed taxing oil companies more than $270 million over the next two years to help pay for the state's transportation needs.[10] This tax did not pass in that budget and was re-introduced in the January 2009 proposed budget where it did not pass.

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.[11]

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).[12]

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

In October 2007, the Republican-led Assembly, Democrat-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.[13]

Following the election of Barack Obama it was rumored that Doyle, an early supporter of Obama's bid for President, was being offered a cabinet post, an ambassadorship to Ireland, or a job as head of the Peace Corps. The rumors turned out to be untrue.[14]

Electoral history

Wisconsin gubernatorial election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jim Doyle (incumbent) 1,139,115 52.70
Republican Mark Green 979,427 45.31
Democratic hold
Wisconsin gubernatorial election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jim Doyle 800,971 45.09
Republican Scott McCallum (incumbent) 732,796 41.39
Libertarian Ed Thompson 185,085 10.45
Democratic gain from Republican
Wisconsin gubernatorial election, 2002 - Democratic Primary
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jim Doyle 212,066 38.36
Democratic Tom Barrett 190,605 34.48
Democratic Kathleen Falk 150,161 27.16
Wisconsin Attorney General Election 1998
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jim Doyle (incumbent) 1,111,773 64.86
Republican Linda Van De Water 565,073 32.97
Democratic hold
Wisconsin Attorney General Election 1994
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jim Doyle (incumbent) 805,334 52.52
Republican Jeff Wagner 709,927 46.30
Democratic hold
Wisconsin Attorney General Election 1990
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jim Doyle 687,283 50.87
Republican Don Hanaway (incumbent) 635,835 47.06
Democratic gain from Republican



  1. "James E. Doyle". Foley & Lardner LLP. Retrieved 2016-04-11.
  2. "Obituary: Doyle, Ruth Bachhuber". Madisonwest61.com. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  3. "Doyle, Jessica Laird, 1945". Dictionary of Wisconsin History. Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  4. Steven Walters and Patrick Marley (September 23, 2006). "18-month sentence in travel scandal". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  5. 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.
  6. "Local topics". Archived from the original on February 20, 2008.
  7. Bergquist, Lee; Forster, Stacy; Marley, Patrick (2009-08-15). "Doyle won't seek re-election in 2010". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2016-04-11.
  8. "Jim Doyle's Freeze". Wisconsin Real Estate Magazine. March 2005. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  9. "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.
  10. "Wisconsin Gov. Doyle Pitches $270 Million 'Big Oil' Tax". Newsmax.com. Newmax.com wires. February 12, 2007. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  11. "Hungry for real news?". NewsFetish.com. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  12. Petrie, Bob (2009-02-21). "Doyle defends tax increase proposals". Sheboygan Press. Archived from the original on 2009-02-24.
  13. Bauer, Scott (2010-07-20). "Court says Wis. must repay malpractice fund $200". Businessweek. Retrieved 2016-04-11.
  14. "Doyle Says He's Not Vying For Spot With Obama". WISC-TV. 2008-11-05. Archived from the original on 2012-04-02.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jim Doyle.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Don Hanaway
Attorney General of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Peg Lautenschlager
Political offices
Preceded by
Scott McCallum
Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Scott Walker
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