District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas was reelected Tuesday night to her position in Payne and Logan counties, defeating challenger Cory Williams by more than 4,400 votes.
Thomas took 55.8 percent of the vote, ceding Stillwater and Payne County to the former District 34 representative, but more than doubling the votes he received in Logan County. Thomas was elected to the position in 2014, becoming the first woman elected to the position in District 9.
“This has been a year of campaigning, so I’m glad we’re at the end of it,” Thomas said. “I’m very, very grateful to all the people who went out there and voted for me, took the time to do so, thought about it and voted for me in both counties. I’m just really grateful.
“We want to continue the work we’ve been doing, continue working with victims, continue trying to get through all the homicide cases we have. It’s almost a mirror of what it was like four years ago for me. In the results, it’s about a mirror of what it was. I’ve got to get ready to try a death penalty murder case in a couple of weeks, and that’s where my focus now is.”
Williams took every precinct in the Stillwater area, and he held a razor-thin margin of 11 votes after absentee and early voting ballots were counted. Thomas didn’t overtake his lead until about two-thirds of the 38,067 votes were counted, when less-populated precincts in both counties began to report.
Williams said he hopes some of the conversation and debate topics the campaign trail brought about between he and Thomas, such as criminal justice reform in general and programs for women in recovery, are ones voters continue to care about moving forward and “that that brings a conversation internally for them (Thomas’ offices in both counties) as far as criminal justice reform.”
“The takeaway is we had a good message and didn’t get it out to enough people; that’s part of it,” Williams said. “The voters decided she (Thomas) has done a good job and want to keep her for a second round. I’ve always deferred to the will of the voters. I called her already, told her congratulations and wished her well on her second term. ... I hope to see those things come to fruition. I think that will benefit not only our district, but it will benefit the state.
“Those are 4-to-1 Republican registration in those areas (Thomas won). Just in Perkins alone, it’s 3-to-1 straight party Republican-to-Democrat voting. I haven’t seen the straight party voting numbers from Logan County, but if they’re not 4-to-1 I would be really surprised. You can have a great message and you can meet a lot of people, but you’re not going to get past someone who’s going to do a straight party Republican vote. Or a straight party Democrat. It is what it is. It’s one of those things, I wish the Democrats had gotten rid of on the way out the door 15 years ago, but it remains still and it’s a force to be reckoned with.”
Williams is now without political office after choosing to run for District 9’s district attorney seat in April, a surprise move for the District 34 Representative of 10 years. He said the change of pace is one he and his family welcomes.
“I own two businesses, so I’ve decided to kinda’ disappear into private life and spend more time with my kids,” Williams said. “We’ve got a couple of other opportunities on the horizon I actually really look forward to. My boys and I – because of the registration numbers and because of where we were running, we have had long conversations about what it would look like if I would win and what it would look like if I lose. And we’re all actually pretty OK with both. Nobody every likes to come on the downside of an election, but the sun will rise tomorrow and we have some great opportunities in front of us.”