U.S. Lawmaker Dies After Being Hospitalized With Covid-19

Representative Ron Wright, a Texas Republican, died Sunday after battling cancer and Covid-19, becoming the first sitting U.S. lawmaker to pass away after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Wright, 67, represented a district that stretched south and southeast of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area and was a member of the House committees on Foreign Affairs and Education and Labor.

He and his wife Susan were admitted to Baylor Hospital in Dallas two weeks ago after testing positive for the virus, his office said in a statement. He had also been battling cancer.

“Ron remained stoic in the face of his health challenges, and incredibly upbeat about the future of the state and the nation he loved so much,” the statement from his office said.

Before coming to Congress, Wright served on the Arlington, Texas City Council and as the district director and chief of staff to former Representative Joe Barton, whom he succeeded in 2019.

Wright was a recognizable figure on Capitol Hill with his signature bowtie.

“Congressman Wright will be remembered as a constitutional conservative,” the statement from his office said. “He was a statesman, not an ideologue. Ron and Susan dedicated their lives to fighting for individual freedom, Texas values, and above all, the lives of the unborn.”

Texas election law calls for an opening to be filled in a special election. There is no primary, and a runoff is held if no candidate for the seat gets more than 50% of the vote. The district, dominated by suburbs of Dallas and Fort Worth, has been reliably Republican, although the partisan divide has narrowed in recent years.

Wright was among those who objected to some of the electoral college votes certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory, even after rioters disrupted the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. While he denounced the attack on the Capitol as “inexcusable and reprehensible,” he continued to question the integrity of November’s election.

Wright said on Jan. 19 that he would not attend Biden‘s inauguration because he had come in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. He said on Jan. 21 that he would continue working from home after testing positive.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Wright was a “great American who made our country better with his leadership and compassion.”

“Ron Wright was a fighter who passionately served his constituents, Texas, and America,” McCarthy said in a statement. “For Ron, public service was more than a job, it was a calling. The difference he was able to make over the past two decades will continue to live on in every life he impacted.”

Wright is survived by his wife, Susan; his son Derek; his son Justin and wife Susan; his daughter Rachel and husband Jeff; his brother Gary and wife Janis; nine grandchildren; cousins and extended family.

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