Jerry Thomasson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jerry Kreth Thomasson
Arkansas State Representative from Clark County
In office
Personal details
Born (1931-10-17)October 17, 1931
Arkadelphia, Clark County
Arkansas, USA
Died April 29, 2007(2007-04-29) (aged 75)
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican (1966)
Spouse(s) Dortha Juanita Yates Thomasson (married 1960-2007, his death)
Children Two children
Residence Arkadelphia, Arkansas
Alma mater

Arkadelphia High School
Henderson State University

University of Arkansas School of Law
Occupation Attorney

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.

Early years[edit]

Thomasson was born in Arkadelphia, the seat of staunchly Democratic Clark County in south central Arkansas, to Joseph Baron Thomasson and the former Gertrude Dean.

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.


In 1960, Thomasson married Dortha Juanita Yates (born July 6, 1937). The couple wed in Bismarck in Hot Spring County and had a son and a daughter.


Legal career[edit]

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[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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").

External links[edit]