This is a growing story and might be up to date all through the day.
Rep. Ron Wright of Arlington died Sunday evening lower than three weeks after contracting COVID-19. He was 67.
His household and a spokesperson confirmed Wright’s demise because of the coronavirus Monday morning. The Republican congressman, who was reelected in November, additionally had been battling lung most cancers.
Wright is the primary member of Congress to die of COVID-19.
“Congressman Wright will be remembered as a constitutional conservative. He was a statesman, not an ideologue,” in accordance with an announcement launched by Wright’s workplace. “Ron and Susan dedicated their lives to fighting for individual freedom, Texas values, and above all, the lives of the unborn. As friends, family, and many of his constituents will know, Ron maintained his quick wit and optimism until the very end. Despite years of painful, sometimes debilitating treatment for cancer, Ron never lacked the desire to get up and go to work, to motivate those around him, or to offer fatherly advice.”
According to the assertion, Wright had been holding a vigorous work scheduled earlier than contracting the virus. Two weeks in the past Wright and his spouse, Susan, had been admitted to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas as a result of of COVID-19 unwanted side effects.
Wright introduced on Jan. 21 that he had examined constructive “after coming in contact with an individual with the virus last week.” He had been in quarantine since Jan. 15 and mentioned he would stay in quarantine till medical doctors cleared him to return to work.
“I am experiencing minor symptoms, but overall, I feel okay and will continue working for the people of the 6th District from home this week. I encourage everyone to keep following CDC guidelines and want to thank all the medical professionals on the front lines who fight this virus head-on every single day,” he mentioned on the time in an announcement issued by his workplace.
The quarantine started two days after the House voted to question then-president Donald Trump. Wright voted towards the impeachment, as did all however 10 Republicans, none from Texas.
That was his last House vote, congressional information present.
Wright, given his age and well being issues, stayed away from Washington for stretches at a time during the last 11 months, House voting information present. While congressional leaders have taken steps to cease COVID-19′s unfold, a number of lawmakers have nonetheless contracted the virus.
To date, three different Texans have examined constructive for the coronavirus: Reps. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands; Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler; and Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth. All three of these Texans recovered after reporting delicate signs.
Wright had not acquired a vaccination, not like many House members.
Although the pandemic had not claimed the life of some other sitting member of Congress, Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, a Louisiana Republican, died from coronavirus complication simply 5 days earlier than he would have been sworn in.
Known for his wit and deep appreciation for his district and its historical past, and his bow ties, Wright held a number of elected posts earlier than reaching Congress.
“The first thing I think about, when I remember Ron Wright, is his heart for service,” mentioned conservative radio speak present host Mark Davis. “I was always running into Ron Wright when I was working in the 6th District. He was a wonderful man and he always had a smile and an upbeat attitude. He took that attitude with him when he served Arlington, Tarrant County and his congressional district.
Wright served on the Arlington City Council from 2000 to 2008, the second half as mayor pro tem. He was elected Tarrant County tax assessor-collector in 2010, a post he held for six years.
He succeeded fellow Republican Joe Barton of Ennis, who retired after 17 terms.
In 2018, Wright led an 11-candidate field in the GOP primary with 45% of the vote, just short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff, though he barely eked past rival Jake Ellzey, 52-48, by just 1,064 votes out of more than 24,000.
He’d had an easier time after that. In fall 2018, he beat Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez 53-45.
For a second term, he coasted through the primary without opposition, and in November, he fended off Democrat Stephen Daniel 53-44.
After hosting Barton’s first political coffee in Arlington, he ended up as a top adviser for years – “one of my key volunteers, key supporters, key confidants,” and finally, his district director after which chief of workers, Barton mentioned by telephone on Monday.
Fighting again tears, his voice quivering, Barton described his pal as a “really, really decent guy.”
”He was a wise man,” he mentioned. “He was a very honest man. I saw him get mad a time or two, but I never really saw him lose his temper. I never heard him cuss, which is something I can’t say. He was a very compassionate person.”
When Barton determined to retire forward of the 2018 election, he didn’t hesitate to encourage Wright to run, lamenting that Wright ended up combating sickness virtually his total time in Congress.
He “really didn’t get to fulfill his potential,” Barton mentioned. But he identified that Wright nonetheless had notable successes, together with serving to Arlington safe the location of the National Medal of Honor Museum. ”He liked Texas,” Barton mentioned. “He loved Arlington and Fort Worth.”
On that, Sanchez, the Democrat defeated by Wright in 2018, agreed.
“While we shared our differences, we both ran for Congress for the same reason: to fight for the people of North Texas,” she mentioned. “He served with passion while battling cancer and a deadly virus that has claimed far too many lives far too soon.”
Gov. Greg Abbott mentioned the demise left him “deeply saddened,” and he highlighted Wright’s staunch opposition to abortion, amongst different issues. “Ron was a principled leader who fought to preserve Texas values and was an exemplary representative of his district. His personal strength and commitment to standing up for the unborn were unwavering.”
Wright’s demise leaves a gap for the District 6 seat in Congress. Texas governor Greg Abbott will name a particular election to exchange the late lawmaker. That contest is anticipated to generate an array of Republican and Democratic contenders.
Democrats final 12 months had circled Wright’s suburban-rural district as a possible pickup alternative. But the race between Wright and Democrat Stephen Daniel by no means garnered the eye of another high-profile congressional bouts, and Wright gained 53-44. Given that Democrats now management the House by solely a handful of seats – after shedding floor final 12 months – the particular election to exchange Wright might obtain a bigger nationwide highlight.
Many Republicans could wait to see if Wright’s spouse, Susan, decides to run for the seat. The listing of different potential GOP contenders might be lengthy, starting from Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams to state Rep. David Cook to Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn.
”There might be all types of native Republicans who’re going to take a look at it,” Barton mentioned.
But for now, lawmakers and others are remembering Barton.
Just over per week in the past, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Austin, who had a relative combating the coronavirus, obtained a textual content from Wright: “Still in hospital, but definitely improving. Praying for your family!!!”
“I will endeavor to wear a bow tie every now and then just to remember my happy and faithful friend,” Roy mentioned.
Texas congressional colleagues from each side of the aisle praised Wright.
“Ron will be remembered as a tireless fighter for North Texas who brought his conservative principles and a love of country to the United States Congress every single day,” mentioned GOP Rep. Roger Williams of Austin. “We’ll all miss his signature bow tie and warm personality in the halls of the Capitol, a presence that cannot soon be replaced.”
Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, mentioned Wright helped his push for a brand new Garland Veterans Administration medical heart.
“When I was looking for a Republican to help lead the push to create the Garland VA, Ron Wright stepped up and was with me every step of the way,” he mentioned in an announcement. “We had very different views on many things, but he was a man of principle and will be missed.”
Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa provided “heartfelt condolences” to Wright’s household “and to all of those who loved and cared for him.”
“The outpouring of prayers and support shows the type of man Wright was and how beloved he was by many Texans across the state. This loss serves as a tragic reminder that we must remain vigilant fighting against this deadly virus,” he mentioned.
Sen. John Cornyn known as Wright “a passionate public servant and a strong advocate for Texas values, his neighbors in North Texas, and constituents across Texas’ 6th District. A sixth-generation resident of Tarrant County, he was a Texan first and foremost, and we saw that every day as he put his community first.”
Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West mentioned, “Just hearing of the news about @RepRonWright. The West family adds our condolences and prayers.”
At the Tarrant County GOP, chairman Rick Barnes known as Wright “a great public servant and an even better man. Congressman Ron Wright served his constituents with honor and grace. Ron was a true statesman and one of the most beloved political figures in Tarrant County. His legacy of is one that will live in our hearts for years to come.”
Wright is survived by his spouse, Susan; daughter Rachel, sons Derek and Justin, brother Gary, and 9 grandchildren.
Washington Bureau Chief Todd J. Gillman and correspondents Tom Benning and Elizabeth Thompson contributed to this report.