Former Wisconsin Gov. Tony Earl's cause of death is revealed

 February 24, 2023

The Associated Press reports that the death of former Wisconsin Gov. Tony Earl (D) was caused by a recently-suffered stroke. 

According to the outlet, "Earl had been hospitalized after suffering a stroke earlier this week."

It was shortly thereafter, on Thursday, that Earl, according to his daughter, passed away "peacefully surrounded by family."

He was 86 years old at the time of his passing.

Who was Tony Earl?

Born and raised in Michigan, Earl's background was in law. After graduating from the University of Chicago's law school in 1961, Earl would practice law for the U.S. Navy before becoming the district attorney of Marathon County in 1965.

After working three years as a city attorney, Earl ran for the state assembly in 1969. After his victory, Earl would stay in the state assembly until 1974, spending four years of that time as the Democratic Majority leader.

In 1974, Earl attempted to become the attorney general but was defeated. Earl, instead, worked as the secretary of the Department of Administration for one year and then as the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources for five years.

After that, in 1982, Earl ran for the governorship of Wisconsin. It was expected that Earl would lose to the Republican incumbent, Lee Dreyfus. But, Earl was able to defeat Republican Terry Kohler after Dreyfus decided against seeking reelection.

Earl, speaking about the victory, once said, "I was sort of an accidental governor in a way."

Earl's legacy

Earl would serve one term as Wisconsin's governor, from 1983 to 1987.

At the time, Wisconsin was experiencing significant economic struggles with a double-digit unemployment rate and a budget deficit of $1 billion. Earl attempted to address some of these economic problems by pursuing a tax increase, which earned him the nickname, "Tony the Taxer."

This was the nickname that Republican Tommy Thompson, the man who defeated Earl in 1987, gave to Earl. After this defeat, Earl would attempt to reenter politics in 1988, making a U.S. Senate bid. But, after losing in the Democratic primary, he decided to end his political career for good.

Earl, subsequently, became an advocate for campaign and election finance reforms and for environmental causes, for which he is celebrated. Earl is also celebrated for several acts that he did as governor, including in the area of gay rights.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in Earl's memory. "A formidable leader and public servant, trusted colleague and mentor, and a good and loyal friend, Tony was well-liked and respected by so many," Evers said.

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