We’ll Miss You, Mike

by James A. Bacon

Mike Thompson, president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy (TJI), passed away this weekend after a battle with leukemia. Founder of Virginia’s only state/local think tank with a conservative bent, the Northern Virginian was a regular fixture in Richmond and a consistent voice for small government.

I had the pleasure to work with Mike on and off over many years. I will miss his cheerful, amiable presence and his “big tent” approach to getting things accomplished in the legislature. In a world dominated by left-leaning dark money (more on that in my next post), Mike and his friend-and-collaborator Chris Braunlich were remarkably successful at injecting conservative perspectives into the debates over taxes, budget reform, K-12 education, the environment, health care, and economic development.

In an email distributed yesterday, Chris told Mike’s story better than I can. Chris wrote:

Mike Thompson got his start in youth politics, as a leader in the “Youth for Goldwater” movement, later joining the National Board of Young Americans for Freedom and leading the Student Committee for Victory in Vietnam.  A passion for youth involvement continued throughout his life, especially as vice chairman of The Fund for American Studies which teaches the principles of limited government and free-market economics to students and young professionals in America and, indeed, throughout the world.

Nothing thrilled Mike more than to see a high school or college student actively engaged in conservative politics and advocacy. To him, it was the hope of a better future.

I first came to know Mike when he was president of the Thompson Creative Marketing Group, which helped advance the conservative cause by marketing ideas and candidates throughout the country. His vocation echoed his leadership in the Virginia Republican Party, and he was named by Campaigns and Elections magazine as one of the 30 most influential Republicans in Virginia.

Most men, when they retire …. retire. Instead, Mike launched the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, where he continued the battle to make a difference by developing Virginia-oriented public policy solutions based on free markets, limited government and individual responsibility.

Mike ran TJI on a shoestring. I think I am correct in stating (based on TJI’s 990 filing in 2017) that he received minimal compensation. His stewardship of TJI arose from his passionately held principles and convictions, not a way to earn a paycheck.

We’ll miss you, Mike. Here’s hoping that your journey isn’t over. When you make it into heaven, I’m counting on you to keep St. Peter on his toes. Has he properly amortized the cost of maintaining the pearly gates? Does God really need so many beings in the heavenly host? And whose idea was it to hand out free halos to all the angels? If you don’t ask, nobody else will.

There are currently no comments highlighted.

2 responses to “We’ll Miss You, Mike

  1. Jim,
    For those of us who knew Michael, your last paragraph nailed it. Thanks for giving some sad people a smile today.

  2. MT was a great guy and gentleman. He always listened to whomever was speaking.

Leave a Reply