GOP insiders now expect former Senate candidate Tim Michels to announce his run for governor later this week.
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson on Monday announced he is not running for governor.
“This is a very difficult conclusion,” Thompson said in a statement. “After a full life of service and leading and growing businesses, I know I have the vision, drive and vitality to serve another term as governor. Wisconsin needs strong leadership to bridge political divides, care for our most vulnerable, set our economy on a path to succeed in the 21st-century, and again make us the shining star of the nation. I would have brought those qualities and commitment as governor.”
Thompson served four terms as governor in Wisconsin, he was first elected in 1986. He left the governor’s mansion to serve in the George W. Bush Administration in 2002.
Thompson last ran for office in 2012, when he lost a bid for U.S. Senate.
Thompson most recently was the interim president of the University of Wisconsin System. He left that job earlier this year.
“I am open and will continue to investigate how I may otherwise serve,” Thompson added in his announcement.
Thompson is the latest Republican to pass on a run for governor. Madison businessman Eric Hovde declined to get into the race last week, and former northwoods Congressman Sean Duffy opted-out back in January.
Thompson’s decision leaves three Republicans in the race. Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is the frontrunner in the polls, followed by veteran and candidate Kevin Nicholson. State Rep. Tim Ramthun, R-Campbellsport, is running on the idea of reversing the 2020 election in the state. He is in a distant third.
The three are headed for a face-off in the primary in August.