By Zachary Toillion
Former Senator Fred Thompson passed away as a result of lymphoma Sunday night. Thompson, age 73, was surrounded by family in Nashville.
Thompson gained national prominence for the first time in 1973 when he was appointed minority counsel to the Senate Republicans on the Watergate special committee looking into potential crimes committed by President Richard Nixon and White House aides. Thompson played a crucial role in the Watergate investigation when he publicly revealed the existence of the White House’s secret Oval Office recordings.
After Watergate, Thompson became a lobbyist who would go on to represent six different entities lobbying the federal government, starting in 1981. After being a lobbyist, Thompson became an actor who starred in a series of successful films in the 1980s and early 1990s. Thompson would later play the role of a conservative District Attorney in the legal drama Law in Order, a role he would play from 2002 to 2007.
Thompson’s return to politics was sealed on November 3 1992, when Al Gore was elected Vice President. In 1994, Thompson ran for the remainder of Al Gore’s Senate term which was set to expire in 1996. Thompson faced Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper in the general election. Early polling in the race showed Cooper with a lead of up to 20 points. Over the course of the campaign, Thompson bridged the gap and was elected with over 60 percent of the vote. In 1996, Thompson successfully ran for his first full term as a Senator and was again elected with over 60 percent of the vote. Thompson served on the powerful Senate Finance Committee where he served as chairman until 2001.
Thompson was also involved in presidential politics, starting in the 2000 Presidential election when he served as national campaign co-chair for Arizona Senator John McCain. Later when George W. Bush received the Republican nomination, Thompson was considered a potential candidate for Vice President. In September 2007, Thompson announced his candidacy for the Republican Presidential nomination and finished with 11 delegates.
Thompson is survived by his wife Jeri, four children and five grandchildren.