Laramie, Wy – U-S Senator Craig Thomas has died at the age of 74.
For awhile, it looked as if Thomas was winning his battle over leukemia. He was diagnosed with the disease just shortly after he grabbed 70 percent of the vote to win his third term in office. Following treatments, he surprised most by returning to work in December. And by all accounts, things seemed to be going well. Thomas even spoke of his health during a radio interview on May 17th...
But shortly after that Thomas returned for more chemotherapy and his office announced Monday that an infection had led to some complications and later in the evening the family announced that he had died. For many it was shocking. Senator Mike Enzi admitted that he was stunned--- and for former Senator Alan Simpson, who grew up with Thomas in Cody and later served with him in the Senate, it was especially hard
Thomas grew up in Cody, but lived in Casper for many years. There he was elected to the state legislature where he served on the house appropriations committee and developed a reputation as a fiscal conservative.
He defeated John Vinich in a special election to fill the remainder of Dick Cheney's house seat, when Cheney became secretary of defense.
He later handily defeated Governor Mike Sullivan to enter the U-S Senate. The Senator picked his press secretary, 28 year old Liz Brimmer to be his chief of staff. She remembers when Thomas first entered the house that he was a fiscal conservative even in his own office.
While Thomas would get 70 percent of the vote in Wyoming, he was a relative unknown across the country, especially when compared to the likes of Simpson and Cheney. But Brimmer says Thomas was there for Wyoming people and did not care to draw attention to himself.
State Republican Party Chairman Fred Parady noted Thomas longtime support of National Parks and reforms of the system. He calls him everyone's friend. Parady says the party will wait until after the funeral to submit three names to Governor Freudenthal who will name a replacement. For Wyoming Public Radio, I'm Bob Beck.