Gov. Jim Doyle Thursday praised a Madison biotech company executive who's considering a gubernatorial run as a Democrat.
A relative and informal adviser confirmed that Kevin T. Conroy, president and chief executive officer of Exact Sciences Corp., is considering a run.
Doyle said Conroy, whose company is seeking to commercialize a cancer-screening technology, is a "really remarkable" guy.
"He has been a really creative and effective business person in this state and, you know, it will be up to him to make his decision on what he wants to do. But he's a person who has really accomplished a lot at a young age," Doyle said.
Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton's abrupt decision to exit the governor's race Monday left Democrats without a major announced candidate, though Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is considering a run.
Conroy, 44, could not be reached for comment immediately Thursday. But his brother-in-law, Joel Brennan, said Conroy was putting together campaign staff and "the infrastructure to run a statewide campaign."
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Brennan, who ran Barrett's unsuccessful 2002 campaign for governor and successful campaign for mayor, said Conroy would be a candidate who knows how to create "21st century jobs" and who has the personal wealth to help fund his campaign. Brennan said Conroy wouldn't decide whether to get in the race until Barrett makes his decision.
"In the event Tom does not decide to run, there need to be other people who are taking steps to run serious statewide campaigns," Brennan said.
In the Republican primary, former congressman Mark Neumann and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker are declared candidates.
Conroy is also the former president and chief executive of another Madison biotech company, Third Wave Technologies, that was acquired by Massachusetts firm Hologic.
More recently, he led Exact Sciences to relocate in Madison from the Boston area with the help of a $1 million loan from the Doyle administration's Department of Commerce. The publicly traded company (Nasdaq: EXAS) is developing a noninvasive screening technology for colorectal cancer and hopes to create dozens of jobs here.
Doyle and Conroy put out a joint statement on the loan and move in June, with Conroy saying that the "assistance provided by the governor was a critical part of our relocation decision."