Since the birth six weeks ago of his first child, Samantha, Illinois’ Republican Gov. James “Big Jim” Thompson is doing most of his baby-kissing at home—in the antique-filled, canary-yellow Victorian nursery at the governor’s mansion in Springfield. There Samantha sleeps in a Jenny Lind cradle, surrounded by ancient windup toys, piggy banks, Raggedy Ann dolls, a 100-year-old hand-carved rocker and a steamer trunk filled with stuffed animals collected at county fairs. The touch of nostalgia seems appropriate; the last child born to an incumbent Illinois governor was Bina Deneen, who arrived 72 years ago.
It also suits Samantha’s old-fashioned dad. Although his wife, Jayne, 32, is a former criminal prosecutor and an ardent ERA advocate, the governor, 42, has his own ideas about raising a daughter. “This one is going to wear dresses,” he tells Samantha, “because Daddy is not buying you anything but dresses.” Nor does he foresee a political future for her: “Only one person in this family every 100 years should be called upon to do that.”
Actually, the Thompsons had been expecting a “Little Jim.” Both had finished Lamaze childbirth training, but after 15 hours of labor Samantha was delivered by cesarean. Since then, while hand-knitted booties and sweaters pour in from constituents across the state, the governor starts each day by changing Samantha’s diapers. “After all,” he concedes, “Jayne has been up all night nursing. And I’m not good at nursing.”