Special Collections 
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TOMMY G. THOMPSON COLLECTION

JAMES R. KLAUSER GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGN RECORDS



Biographical Note

James R. Klauser was a close friend and advisor to Tommy G. Thompson, serving on the Thompson For Wisconsin Committee from 1985-2000. Klauser played a variety of roles in Thompson's first gubernatorial election in 1986, including legal counsel and general campaign chairman with co-chairman John MacIver. Klauser reprised his role as general campaign chairman for Thompson's three successful reelection bids, in 1990, 1994, and 1998.

From 1987 to 1996, Klauser served in Governor Thompson's cabinet as Secretary of the Department of Administration (DOA).  He would later serve as Co-Chairman, George W. Bush for President–Wisconsin 2000, and as Chairman of the Bush-Cheney 2004 Wisconsin campaign.

A graduate of South Milwaukee High School, Klauser received his bachelor of science degree, juris doctorate, and master of arts in public law from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. During the 1970s, he served as counsel and staff director for the Wisconsin Senate Republican Caucus. From 1980 to 1986, Klauser was a senior partner at the Madison law firm of DeWitt, Sundby, Huggett, Schumacher and Morgan, S.C.. Klauser returned to this law firm in 1996, and two years later he joined the Wisconsin Energy Corporation as a senior vice president.

Scope and Content

The series consists of political campaign records that came into the possession of James R. Klauser during his thirty-year career helping Republican candidates to get elected in Wisconsin. Most records pertain to the gubernatorial elections of Tommy G. Thompson. Klauser donated these records to Marquette University in March 2006. The series is further divided into five sub-series -- one corresponding to each of Thompson's four gubernatorial campaigns, and a fifth sub-series that documents Klauser's involvement in campaigns other than Thompson's bids for the governorship.

Series 10.1, 1986 Gubernatorial Election, (0.6 cubic feet), contains papers related to Tommy Thompson's first election as governor. Files are arranged alphabetically by subject. Types of records include finance reports, campaign planning documents, press releases, and correspondence. The correspondence file contains incoming communications, arranged chronologically: some of these are addressed directly to Klauser, the rest having been relayed to him from other sources. Also included in this series is the transcript of an oral history interview with Klauser, conducted by Ed Sontag in 2011. This interview was donated to Marquette by Ed Sontag. Klauser reflected on a variety of topics in the interview, but the majority of it concerns the 1986 election.

Series 10.2, 1990 Gubernatorial Election, (3.0 cubic feet), consists of papers documenting Thompson's successful re-election campaign against Democratic challenger Tom Loftus. Files are arranged alphabetically by subject. The correspondence files are further arranged by sender. Unidentified correspondence has been grouped into a single folder, along with any letter or memorandum that represents the sole communication from a particular individual. Not all of the correspondence is addressed to Klauser directly. This series also includes a large amount of polling information, particularly from Tarrance & Associates, Inc. -- a professional polling firm employed by the Thompson For Wisconsin Committee. Many other documents in the series originate from the Robert Goodman Agency, a private company hired to handle the campaign's media advertising.

Series 10.3, 1994 Gubernatorial Election, (2.6 cubic feet), contains papers from Thompson's successful bid for an unprecedented third term as governor of Wisconsin. Files are arranged alphabetically by subject. Correspondence is further arranged by sender. Unidentified correspondence has been grouped into a single folder, along with any letter or memorandum that represents the sole communication from a particular individual. Not all of the correspondence is addressed to Klauser directly. Other types of records in this series include planning documents, reports, press releases, and information about the campaign efforts of the Democratic challenger, Charles Chvala. A large amount of polling information can be found in this series, most commonly from Tarrance & Associates, Inc. -- the Thompson Committee's principal polling firm.

Series 10.4, 1998 Gubernatorial Election, (1.2 cubic feet), contains records documenting Thompson's successful re-election campaign against his Democratic opponent, Ed Garvey. Files are arranged chronologically by subject. Correspondence is further arranged by sender. Unidentified correspondence has been grouped into a single folder, along with any letter or memorandum that represents the sole communication from a particular individual. Not all of the correspondence is addressed to Klauser directly. The series also includes organizational materials, background research, and data from polling surveys conducted by private firms.

Series 10.5, Non-Gubernatorial Elections, 1970-2002, (1.3 cubic feet), contains records related to political campaigns other than the four gubernatorial contests of Tommy G. Thompson. Files are arranged alphabetically by subject. A majority of the files date from the 1970s, when Klauser served on the staff of the Wisconsin Republican Senate Caucus. Among the more recent items of note are a 1995 "Friends of TGT" report about a potential Thompson presidential bid in 1996, as well as two studies that assessed his chances of securing the Republican nomination in 2000. The series does not contain any records concerning the Bush/Cheney presidential campaigns in Wisconsin in 2000 or 2004.

 

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