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Thomas elected to District 44 seat

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Tuesday's election results were probably the last thing on Amos Thomas' mind.

And yet, even with the death of his wife Mary on Monday night, Thomas managed to muster up the courage to visit the areas he will officially represent.

The Republican from Brazil defeated Democrat challenger Richard Thompson to win the Indiana State House District 44 seat.

His wife died unexpectedly Monday evening at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Officials with French Funeral Home, Brazil, told the BannerGraphic Tuesday that she was not at the hospital long.

Still, Thomas, 76, flanked by his family, managed to make an appearance at the Putnam County Courthouse Tuesday evening as election results poured in.

As it turned out, Putnam County voters favored Thomas over Thompson, a Parke County resident. The candidate, who replaced his son Andy earlier this year, received 5,705 votes (55 percent) while Thompson gathered 4,253 votes (45 percent).

House District 44 includes all of Putnam County and portions of Clay, Parke and Vigo counties.

When all the votes were tallied Tuesday evening, Thomas had defeated Thompson, winning 53 percent of the vote (9,114). Thompson had received 47 percent of the vote (7,936).

Even though he took Putnam County, a somber Thomas had little to say Tuesday evening.

"I couldn't miss coming up here," Thomas said Tuesday. "But it's a bittersweet victory. I'd love for her to be here, but it wasn't meant to be."

Thompson also made an appearance in Putnam County Tuesday, saying he expressed condolences to Thomas before returning to Rockville.

She was a real nice lady," Thompson said in a phone interview Tuesday evening.

Thompson said he believed the constituents of District 44 focused on the issues at hand. He congratulated Thomas, but said he'd be back.

"If (Thomas) doesn't look at those issues, I'll be back in two years," Thompson said Wednesday. "People are looking at the issues a lot more closely. A lot of people are upset over a lot of things."

When votes started coming in, Thompson had the edge. Through six of 51 possible precincts, Tompson had received 57 percent of the vote while Thomas had only 43 percent.

As late as 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thompson said he couldn't tell which way the election would head.

"I don't know for sure," he said in a phone interview.

However, as the evening wore on, Thomas continued to gain ground, particularly in Putnam County.

Through two precincts, both were neck-and-neck. Thompson pulled ahead after four precincts were tallied, before Thomas rattled off three straight precincts to take a lead.

Thomas then won six of the next eight Putnam County precincts announced en route to his victory.

Thomas assisted his brother John Thomas while he served as state representative. John Thomas served for 24 years.

The Brazil attorney was chosen by Republican caucus for the seat earlier this year, defeating Putnam County residents Ken Eitel, Darwyn Nelson, Jeremy M. Carver and Katheryn E. Deer, in addition to Clay County resident Fritz Maurer and Parke County resident Jim Meese.

Andy was serving out his second term when he announced he would not seek re-election earlier this year. He resigned from the seat in late August to take a position with the state Attorney General's office.

On Wednesday, Thompson said he enjoyed running for election.

"I couldn't imagine all the people I met," he said. "I met a lot of nice people."

Thompson added he was pleased the campaign did not include any mud-slinging on either side.

As word of Thomas' wife's death filtered through the community Tuesday, several people expressed shock and disbelief.

"I'm speechless," said Republican Party Chairman Jerry Ensor said. "My thoughts and prayers are with Amos."

Ensor said she was out on the "campaign trail" with Amos last week.

Mary, 71, was a guidance counselor at Cloverdale High School for seven years, while also spending time as a teacher at Crawfordsville and Brazil High Schools before finishing her teaching tenure in Clay Community Schools.

The two were married for nearly 50 years.

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