On his final night as Wisconsin governor 17 years ago, Tommy Thompson danced the polka in front of a packed Assembly chamber and proposed a $75 million “world-class history center” to be built in Downtown Madison.
His dance moves made the nightly news and appeared in the State Journal the next morning, when he resigned to become President George W. Bush’s secretary of Health and Human Services.
It was a fitting end to his energetic 14 years in office. But the museum never gained much traction once he was gone.
Fast forward to 2018, and Thompson is again touting the project, this time with another former governor, Jim Doyle. The two men, one a Republican, the other a Democrat, respectively, have agreed to lead a $50 million fundraising campaign to revive the idea and make it bigger and better.
Even more significant, Gov. Scott Walker has agreed to deliver $70 million of additional money if the goal for private donations is reached by Sept. 30.
So get the campaign going, and pitch in if you can. This exciting project deserves broad support. It will help our state remember, celebrate and learn from its past, while creating a new attraction and encouraging private development on the Capitol Square.
As our state motto goes: Forward!
We thank the current and two past governors for their commitment to this worthy goal. We’ll be rooting for success.