State Rep. Andy Thomas (R-Brazil) has withdrawn his bid for re-election to the District 44 seat in the Indiana House of Representatives.
Citing his desire to spend more time with his family and pursue teaching math and criminal justice at Ivy Tech Community College in Greencastle, Thomas bowed out of the race before a noon deadline on Monday.
He said he was privileged to have served -- with so many dedicated men and women on both sides of the aisle -- in the General Assembly.
Responding to the news Tuesday morning, Gov. Mitch Daniels spoke with reporters about Thomas' decision.
"I'm very sad to hear that. He's a terrific guy," Gov. Daniels said during a brief stop in Brazil. "I just heard about it (Monday). It will be a real loss. He's a real hard worker."
Attempts to reach Thomas for comments on Monday evening and Tuesday morning were unsuccessful.
District 44 covers all of Putnam County and parts of Clay, Park and Vigo counties. GOP precinct committee members in the district will choose a new candidate. That person will face Parke County Democrat Richard Thompson in the fall General Election.
On Monday evening, Thomas thanked the Clay County Republican Club for its support.
"He assured us that he will continue to serve as our representative and will work hard for our district up until the election this fall," wrote Sharon Koehler, Clay County Republican chairperson in a late Monday e-mail to The Brazil Times, sister publication of the BannerGraphic.
"Andy has been a wonderful state representative and a strong advocate for the people in our district. No one works harder or takes the issues more to heart than Andy. He has given his all, often at great personal sacrifice, to serve the people of Clay County ... and he has done so with wisdom and personal integrity."
She went on to say that Thomas, "has played an instrumental role in moving our state forward, especially during the past two years while the Republicans have held the majority in the Indiana General Assembly. For the first time in a long time, Indiana is 'back in black' with a balanced budget. In addition, with Andy's support for Major Moves, the state is now earning more than a half a million dollars a day in interest on the toll road lease. New highway and road money will be coming back for much needed repairs and improvements in Clay County. Job growth is also up because of steps taken by Andy, the legislature and Gov. Daniels., with 76,000 more Hoosiers working now than two years ago. Andy has served Clay County well and he will be greatly missed. We certainly wish him the best in his future endeavors."
Several people are being considered to replace Thomas on the ballot Nov. 7.
Though she did not name names, Koehler said, "It should prove to be an interesting caucus. I do think the seat will remain in the Republican column, as there are several very well-qualified candidates out there."
Thomas has served two terms in the House, grabbing the District 44 seat in the 2002 election and winning re-election in 2004.
His uncle, John Thomas, served several terms in the state legislature prior to losing the seat to Democrat Susan Crosby of Roachdale. Andy Thomas chose to run the year Crosby decided to not run for re-election.
Thomas was one of two Republican congressmen to withdraw a re-election bid Monday, as 26-year House member Ralph Ayres of Chesterton (R-District 4) also removed himself from the ballot.
Republicans gained a 52-48 majority in the 2004 election after Democrats had controlled the chamber the previous eight years. Both state parties have said that control of the Indiana House is their top priority this November.
Tim Jeffers, campaign director for House Democrats, said the news was not anticipated.
"Clearly these are competitive districts, and it presents a tremendous opportunity for us," he said, adding that Ayres and Thomas had been good public servants.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said he accepted the decisions by Ayres and Thomas with remorse.