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As I See It

Remembering Tony Earl



They don’t make them like that anymore. Former Wisconsin Governor Tony Earl has died following a stroke at the age of 86. Earl was Wisconsin’s 41st Governor, serving from 1983 to 1987. Earl was not a typical politician, although he was a good one. He was described in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial as “at once tough, reasonable, decent and credible.” Those aren’t words you hear to describe many politicians these days.  Former Governor Tommy Thompson, who defeated Earl in the 1986 election, remembers Earl fondly, and the two remained good friends even though they were on opposite sides of the political aisle. Others said Earl had strong convictions and took stances he felt would benefit the state, regardless of political fallout. Earl himself once said, “I have a hard time admiring leaders who lead by keeping their ear on the ground and their finger in the air” to determine which way the political winds are blowing. During his tenure, Wisconsin began it’s first rainy day fund and the state made the 5% sales tax permanent. He also fought hard on issues relating to conservation, education and equal rights. After losing the election, Earl didn’t become a lobbyist like so many other former politicians, instead chairing the Center for Clean Air Policy. A politician who was kind, gracious, who cared about the state more than himself? They don’t make them like that anymore.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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  1. Tom

    February 24, 2023 at 10:14 am

    “Earl was not a typical politician, although he was a good one”

    Gee, then why was he not re-elected?

  2. Darin

    February 28, 2023 at 7:44 am

    We’ll see what he says when Tommy Thompson shuffles off this mortal coil. I doubt he’ll say he was “a good one.”

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