||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (April 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|Jerry Kreth Thomasson|
|Arkansas State Representative from Clark County|
October 17, 1931|
Arkadelphia, Clark County
|Died||April 29, 2007(aged 75)|
|Political party||Democrat-turned-Republican (1966)|
|Spouse(s)||Dortha Juanita Yates Thomasson (married 1960-2007, his death)|
|Alma mater||University of Arkansas School of Law|
Jerry Kreth Thomasson (October 17, 1931 — April 29, 2007) was a Democratic member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, who in 1966 switched to the Republican Party and ran unsuccessfully for attorney general in 1966 and 1968 on the ticket of Winthrop Rockefeller.
He graduated in 1949 from Arkadelphia High School and attended Henderson State Teachers College there. He was a veteran of the Korean War. In 1959, he received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law at Little Rock.
Thomasson was in private law practice for eight years with Huie, Huie & Thomasson in Arkadelphia. He was a referee for the Arkansas Workmen’s Compensation Commission from 1960–1961. From 1959–1960, Thomasson was the librarian of the Arkansas Supreme Court when James Douglas Johnson of Conway was an associate justice. Thomasson was also a past chairman for the Legal Aid Committee of the Arkansas Bar Association.
Public service career
As a Democratic member of the Arkansas House (1963–1966), Thomasson introduced legislation to add the white safety lines to the outside edges of Arkansas highways. He introduced the 1967 bill to change Henderson State Teachers College to Henderson State College; the change finally occurred in 1985. When Thomasson ran for attorney general in 1966, he expected to face the Democratic incumbent, Bruce Bennett. In the Democratic primary election, Joe Purcell of Benton, the seat of Saline County, unseated segregationist Bennett, a lawyer from El Dorado. During the campaign, both Thomasson and Purcell ran as reformers.
Despite running on the Republican ticket with the successful gubernatorial candidate, reformer Winthrop Rockefeller, Thomasson lost in the general election. Purcell received 287,983 votes (53.9 percent) to Thomasson's 246,133 (46.1 percent). Thomasson carried 12 of the state's 75 counties, having received more than 60 percent of the ballots in Searcy, Baxter, Sebastian, Benton, and Washington counties. He also won in Crawford County, which Rockefeller lost. His strength was concentrated in the northwestern portion of the state.
In 1968, Thomasson again challenged Purcell. He received 240,725 votes (41.4 percent) to Purcell's 341,233 (58.6 percent). Thomasson won nine counties, again all in northwestern Arkansas, three fewer than he had in 1966. In 1971, U.S. President Richard M. Nixon appointed Thomasson as an administrative law judge of the Social Security Administration, a position that he retained until his retirement in 2000.
Despite his party switch, Thomasson was a friend and supporter of former President Bill Clinton and is mentioned in Clinton’s autobiography, My Life (on page 231, in which Clinton refers to Thomasson as "a fair-minded Republican").