Jerry Thomas (Louisiana politician)

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For the mixologist, see Jerry Thomas.
Jerry Aroe Thomas
Louisiana State Representative from District 75 (Tangipahoa and Washington parishes)
In office
1988–1999
Preceded by Lawrence A. Sheridan[1]
Succeeded by Ben W. Nevers[1]
Louisiana State Senator from District 12 (St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes)
In office
1999–2004
Preceded by Phil Short
Succeeded by Ben W. Nevers
Coroner of Washington Parish
In office
1980–1988
Succeeded by Roger Casama
Personal details
Born (1953-05-23) May 23, 1953 (age 61)
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican (1999)
Spouse(s) Lou Ann Pitre Thomas
Children Four children
Residence Franklinton
Washington Parish, Louisiana, USA
Alma mater Thomas High School in Franklinton

Southeastern Louisiana University
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans

Occupation Physician
Religion Baptist

Jerry Aroe Thomas (born May 22, 1953) is a family practice physician in Franklinton, Louisiana,[2] who served in both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature from 1988 to 2004. In 1979, at the age of twenty-six, Thomas was elected coroner of Washington Parish, the easternmost of the Florida Parishes in the southeastern portion of his state. He remained coroner from 1980 until he took his legislative seat in 1988.

Early life[edit]

Thomas was the son of Aroe Thomas (1930–1994) of Franklinton.[3] He graduated from Thomas High School in Franklinton and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond in neighboring Tangipahoa Parish. He received his M.D. credentials from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans.[4]

Political life[edit]

Thomas was initially elected as a Democrat to the Louisiana House of Representatives in the nonpartisan blanket primary held in October 1987. At the age of 34, Thomas unseated the long-term Democratic incumbent, Lawrence A. Sheridan of Angie in Washington Parish, who was 34 years Thomas' senior.[3] District 75 still encompasses Tangipahoa and Washington parishes. Thomas polled 9,266 votes (60.2 percent) to Sheridan's 6,121 (39.8 percent).[5] In 1991, Sheridan sought a comeback but again lost to Thomas by an identical percentage: 6,312 (39.8 percent) to 9,532 (60.2 percent).[6] Sheridan had been chairman of the House Retirement Committee during much of his 28-year tenure in the House.[7]

In 1995, Thomas won his last term in the House by defeating his successor in both the House and the Senate, Ben W. Nevers, an electrical contractor from Bogalusa.[8] In October 1999, Nevers was unopposed for Thomas's former House seat.[9]

In 1999, Thomas switched to Republican affiliation to enter the special election for the District 12 seat in the state Senate from St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. After only three years of service, the Republican Phil Short resigned from the seat to re-enter the United States Marine Corps. In the 1995 general election, Short had unexpectedly unseated the legendary B.B. "Sixty" Rayburn of Bogalusa. Rayburn's former district appeared to have turned solidly Republican in the special election of February 6, 1999, when the sole Democratic candidate, Stanley Middleton, polled only 9 percent of the vote. Republican-convert Thomas won the position outright in the first round of balloting with 51 percent of the vote.[10]

In October 1999, Thomas won the nonpartisan blanket primary for the full Senate term (2000–2004), again over Stanley Middleton, 76-24 percent.[9] Thomas completed the final year of his Senate term but did not run again in 2003. Instead in October 2003, Representative Ben Nevers won Thomas' former Senate seat with 43 percent of the primary ballots when the second-place candidate, Republican Richard E. Tanner (born 1942) of Covington, the seat of St. Tammany Parish, trailed with 21 percent and then withdrew from the general election.[11]

Thomas is a member of the First Baptist Church of Franklinton. He has also been affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International, and the Washington Parish Livestock Association. He is married to the former Lou Ann Pitre (born February 26, 1954), and they are the parents of four children.[4] Thomas has been active in many community affairs, including the building of a new branch library in Franklinton,[12] the seat of Washington Parish.

Thomas served on the Senate committees of Agriculture, Transportation, Highways & Public Works, and Insurance.[13] He was credited with assuring state funding of hospitals within his district during a time of budget cuts for such facilities.[12] Thomas contributed to Republicans David Vitter and David C. Treen, when both contested the U.S. House special election in 1999. He also donated to future U.S. Senator Vitter as a congressman and to the gubernatorial campaigns of Bobby Jindal.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2008". house.louisiana.gov. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Dr. Jerry Thomas". healthgrades.com. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "House District 75". enlou.com (Encyclopedia Louisiana). Retrieved November 13, 2009. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Louisiana election returns, October 24, 1987". sos.louisina.gov. Retrieved November 13, 2009. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Louisiana election returns, October 19, 1991". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved November 13, 2009. [dead link]
  7. ^ Bogalusa Daily News, "Lawrence A. Sheridan", Obituaries, April 2001
  8. ^ "Louisiana election returns, October 21, 1995". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "Louisiana aprimary election returns, October 23, 1999". electionresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved September 2, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Louisiana special election returns, February 6, 1999". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved November 3, 2009. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Louisiana primary election returns, October 4, 2003". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved August 31, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "About Us: Friends of the Washington Parish Library". fwpl.tripod.com. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Senator Jerry A. Thomas". senate.legis.state.la.us. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Franklinton, LA Political Contributions by Individuals". city-data.com. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Phil Short
Louisiana State Senator from District 12 (St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes)

Jerry Aroe Thomas
1999–2004

Succeeded by
Ben W. Nevers
Preceded by
Lawrence A. Sheridan
Louisiana State Representative from District 75 (Tangipahoa and Washington parishes)

Jerry Aroe Thomas
1988–1999

Succeeded by
Ben W. Nevers
Preceded by
John Newman
Coroner of Washington Parish, Louisiana

Jerry Aroe Thomas
1980–1988

Succeeded by
Roger Casama