I was saddened to learn of the death of Mike Thompson. Mike passed away last night after a lengthy battle with cancer. Mike was the President of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, an invaluable resource for us Virginia conservatives.
I have known Mike for at least 20 years. All day I was thinking when did I first meet Mike. I don’t know exactly. It could have been at literally hundreds of campaign events, or campaign victory parties, or at a fundraiser. I guess sometimes in life you meet people that you just feel that have known forever. And that is how felt about Mike.
I do remember in the late 90’s I would go down to Wakefield for the Shad Planking, a mecca for anyone interested in Virginia politics. A bus would leave from the right to work building in Springfield and Mike would usually go with us. I do remember election night parties watching the returns with Mike. Asking what he thought about a race. I’d ask Mike something like with “65 percent of the vote in we are up by 5 points.” Have we got this?” But the answer was usual the same. “That depends has all of Fairfax county come in yet?”
Mike was a fixture in conservative politics in Virginia and at any event over the last 20 years you could almost expect, indeed, look forward to running into Mike. Over the years Mike did a few interviews on my blog. I posted a number of his columns. And I sought his advice on a number of projects I was working on. He was always very generous with his help and guidance.
Mike had a historian’s knowledge of the conservative movement. He was involved in the Reagan campaigns and knew, or so it seemed to me, every detail of both Reagan campaigns in 1976 and 1980.
I have read numerous books on Reagan and always thought maybe one day I could stump Mike on a Reagan trivia question. A couple years ago I read Lou Cannon’s book on Reagans time as Governor of California. As Governor, Reagan appointed a young LA lawyer, Phil Battaglia to be his Chief of Staff. Well, to make a long story short, Battaglia was let go.
So, I thought well I bet I can stump Mike on this. No way he is going to remember who was Governor Reagan’s first chief of staff. I saw Mike and asked do you remember who Governor Reagan picked. Without missing a beat Mike said, “I met Phil Battaglia…”
Well, I didn’t stump him, and alas I never will. RIP Mike.