Longtime Former Arizona Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe Dies

AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

Former Arizona Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe died Saturday at 80.

Kolbe served in Congress from 1985 to 2007, in which he represented southern Arizona in both the 5th and 8th Congressional Districts.


“Arizona lost a true elder statesman and political powerhouse today,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted. “Congressman Jim Kolbe never wavered in his responsibility to our state and nation. We are deeply saddened by his passing.”

The governor ordered flags at half-staff until Sunday evening for Kolbe, who was a Vietnam War Navy veteran. Ducey, along with Democratic Congressman Greg Stanton, mentioned how he prioritized trade relations between the United States and Mexico throughout his political career.

“Very saddened to hear of Rep. Jim Kolbe’s passing. He served our state with honor, decency and courage for many years, and I was particularly proud to work closely with him these last few years to strengthen Arizona’s economic ties with Mexico. My prayers are with his loved ones,” Stanton said.

Kolbe came out as gay in 1996, and he married his spouse Hector Alfonso in 2013. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, and he was outed by gay rights activists at the time, according to The Huffington Post.


“Jim Kolbe was a friend, mentor and impactful leader,” Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick tweeted. “Throughout his career he always prioritized southern Arizona and our entire beautiful state. I send my deepest condolences to his family.”

Later in life, the former congressman endorsed a mix of Republicans and Democrats, including Democrat Attorney General-elect Kris Mayes. He reportedly was no longer a registered Republican as of 2018, according to The Tuscon Sentinel.


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