Monday, September 21, 2009
This week's Racine Post cartoon
Jeffrey Thomas passed away on September 16 in Footville, Wisconsin at age 69. The retired orthopedist ran for Congress seven times in Wisconsin's first congressional district, winning the Democratic primaries in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. He never got more than 37% of the vote in the general election.
To be fair, he never got any support from the Democratic party, either. I'm not privy whether it was because the party never thought he had a chance of winning, or whether it was a question of his stands on any issue; I understood him to be against abortion rights, and he didn't come from a union background. But it's hard to ignore the fact that the legislature carved a solidly Republican district out of our formerly swing district in 2002 as part of a bipartisan agreement to protect all of Wisconsin's incumbent congressional representatives.
At any rate, I've been to some Racine Democratic Party events in election years and there was never the slightest evidence that there was any congressional race on the ballot at all. Not one yard sign. Not one bumper sticker. Not one sign-up sheet. The Democrats have usually rented office space downtown. Jeff Thomas's campaign office (the year that I found it) was in a corner grocery store in a rundown neighborhood a mile away.
Somehow, for some reason, Dr. Thomas never gave up. There were five candidates on the ballot for the Democratic nomination in 2008, a couple of whom attracted brief attention by MoveOn.org and the Daily Kos. But Thomas won the nomination again. A few hand-painted yard signs were the only indication thereafter that he was still in the running. Republican incumbent Paul Ryan, with no shortage whatsoever of campaign funds and no competition in advertising or media attention, won the November election without breaking a sweat.
Rest In Peace, Jeffrey Thomas.