Image courtesy of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, National Archives and Records Administration
Although she served for less than a year, Representative Lera Thomas was the first Congresswoman from the state of Texas.
On this day, Representative Lera Millard Thomas
of Texas won the special election to succeed her late husband Albert Thomas
for remainder of his term in the 89th Congress
(1965–1967). Congressman Thomas had chaired the an Appropriations Subcommittee and had been a key ally of President Lyndon B. Johnson
. During her husband’s 15 terms in the House, Lera Thomas often acted as his surrogate within the Houston-based district, giving speeches and making campaign appearances. As a Congresswoman, Thomas continued her husband’s congressional work and successfully secured the creation of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) laboratory in her district, adjacent to existing NASA facilities. “If the lunar laboratory were to be placed at some location other than the spacecraft center . . . administrative and technical support would add considerably to the costs,” Thomas told colleagues on the House Floor. “Who would build a house with the pantry at the opposite end from the kitchen?” Thomas declined to run for re-election in the fall of 1966 and retired to run the family ranch in Texas.