Longtime Democratic activist Ed Garvey has died

Garvey lost races for U.S. Senate, Wis. governor

Longtime Democratic activist Ed Garvey, who ran two unsuccessful campaigns for statewide office in Wisconsin, has died, according to Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

Soglin sent a statement Wednesday morning calling the death of Ed Garvey “a great loss for all of us.”

The Capital Times reported that Garvey, 76, died Wednesday morning at a Verona nursing home.

Garvey lost races for U.S. Senate against Robert Kasten in 1986 and lost a race for governor against Gov. Tommy Thompson in 1998. But Garvey’s legacy extended far beyond Wisconsin.

Many sports fans remember Garvey as the man who served as the executive director of the National Football League Players Association from 1970 to 1983. Garvey led the union through two strikes against the NFL in 1974 and 1982.

After his two unsuccessful runs for office, Garvey founded Fighting Bob Fest, a political event promoting progressive politics named after former Wisconsin Gov. Robert “Bob” LaFollette. Garvey made an appearance at the last event last September. Garvey had Parkinson’s disease.

“His impact as the driving force behind Fighting Bob Fest, laying the groundwork that allowed Bernie Sanders’ campaign to take hold, and providing personal advice and inspiration is a lasting legacy,” Soglin said in a statement. “Ed would tell us to stop dreaming and get to work. We will return to work but only after reflecting on Ed’s sharp tongue, brilliant mind, dry sense of humor, and overwhelming humanity.”