Craig Thomas, Wyoming’s quiet Senator, lost his battle with cancer yesterday at age 74. Re-elected in a rare bright spot for Republicans in last year’s midterm meltdown, Thomas had hoped to recover for his full term, but his leukemia turned out to be too advanced:
Wyoming Sen. Craig Thomas, a three-term conservative Republican who stayed clear of the Washington limelight and political catfights, died yesterday. He was 74.
The senator’s family issued a statement saying he died Monday evening at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. He had been receiving chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia.
Just before the 2006 election, Thomas was hospitalized with pneumonia and had to cancel his last campaign stops. He nonetheless won with 70 percent of the vote, monitoring the election from his hospital bed. …
“Wyoming had no greater advocate, taxpayers had no greater watchdog, and rural America had no greater defender than Craig Thomas,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said last night. “The Senate is a lesser place without Craig here, but the state of Wyoming and our nation are much better places because he was here.”
He may have stayed out of the limelight and the partisan battles on Capitol Hill, but he was an effective member of the Senate for his state. His passion was public land use, helping to maintain parks like Yellowstone. Interestingly, Thomas first entered Congress as a replacement for Dick Cheney in 1989, when Cheney became Secretary of Defense in Bush 41’s Cabinet.
For those keeping score, Wyoming has a Democratic governor, and in most states, that would mean that the balance in the Senate would change. In Wyoming, though, the law apparently requires that the party holding the seat nominate replacement candidates, among whom the governor selects one. The seat will remain in Republican hands as a result.
Our prayers go out to the former Marine who served his country faithfully, and to the family that supported him. Godspeed, Senator Thomas, and thank you.