Illinois Bicentennial: Fmr Gov Jim Thompson (R), on his Narrow 1982 Reelection Victory Over Adlai Stevenson

Illinois Bicentennial: As we approach the 200th anniversary of Illinois statehood, the Illinois Channel will provide a series of programs, looking back at significant moments and events that make up the fabric of Illinois history, people, and events.

Here, former Governor Jim Thompson (R-1922-1991), is interviewed by Historian, Mark DePue, who heads the Oral History program at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum.

They focus on some of the issues which were a focus of the 1982 race for Illinois Governor, the closest gubernatorial in Illinois history, when Gov Jim Thompson defeated former US Senator Adlai Stevenson III, by just 5,074 votes.

Stevenson, who is now an Illinois Channel Board Member,  asked for a motion for a recount given the closeness of the election, but by the difference of one vote, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled against a recount of the election, thus clearing the way for Gov Thompson to be sworn-in for the third time as Illinois Governor.

Sen Stevenson would face electoral heartache once again in 1986, when he again won the Democratic nomination for Governor. But elected as his running mate, was a obscure candidate, who was a fan of Lyndon LaRouche, a political gadfly with unusual concepts.

To divorce himself from the LaRouche running mate, Stevenson resigned from the Democratic ticket and ran as a write-in candidate, thus facing certain defeat, once again against Thompson, in what had been anticipated as another great electoral battle.

Thompson thus was elected 4 times, serving 14 years as Governor of Illinois.  His election in 1976 gave him the largest electoral victory for Governor, in the state’s history.  His election against Sen Stevenson in 1982, was the closest victory margin of any governor in Illinois history.

This interview is courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum