U.S. Rep. Ron Wright, who rose through the ranks of Republican politics to represent North Texas in Congress, died Sunday at age 67.
Wright is the first member of Congress to die of COVID-19 complications. He was being treated for lung cancer when he tested positive for the coronavirus.
The official cause of death wasn’t immediately released; he and his wife were admitted to a Dallas hospital in recent weeks with COVID-19. Wright announced in January that he had tested positive.
A statement issued by Wright’s Congressional office said he "will be remembered as a constitutional conservative. He was a statesman, not an ideologue." Wright fought "for individual freedom, Texas values, and above all, the lives of the unborn."
Wright was re-elected in November to his second term representing the 6th Congressional District, which includes parts of Tarrant County, plus Ellis and Navarro counties. Earlier, he served on the Arlington City Council and worked for U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, the man he would replace in Congress. In 2012, Wright was elected Tarrant County’s tax assessor-collector.
The statement from his Congressional office said: “Over the past few years, Congressman Wright had kept a rigorous work schedule on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and at home in Texas' Congressional District 6 while being treated for cancer. For the previous two weeks, Ron and Susan had been admitted to Baylor Hospital in Dallas after contracting COVID-19."
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott called Wright "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. He leaves behind a tremendous legacy for future generations of Texans."
Statement on passing of Texas Congressman Ron Wright: pic.twitter.com/tBe4EfzJao
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) February 8, 2021
Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn said Wright was "a Texan first and foremost" and "a passionate public servant and a strong advocate for Texas values, his neighbors in North Texas, and constituents across Texas' 6th District."
The 6th Congressional District includes Arlington and other parts of Tarrant County and stretches into the rural areas south of North Texas, including Waxahachie and Corsicana.
Jana Lynne Sanchez, the Democrat who lost to Wright in 2018, said: “While we shared our differences, we both ran for Congress for the same reason: to fight for the people of North Texas. He served with passion while battling cancer and a deadly virus that has claimed far too many lives far too soon."
Tarrant County Republican Party Chairman Rick Barnes said Wright “served his constituents with honor and grace.” He described the congressman as “a true statesman and one of the most beloved political figures in Tarrant County.”
At least 50 members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19. In December, Louisiana Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, a 41-year-old Republican, died after testing positive for the coronavirus, just days before he would have been sworn in for the 117th session of Congress.
- A sixth-generation resident of Tarrant County. Graduated from Azle High School in 1971; moved to Arlington to attend UT-Arlington.
- Served on the Arlington City Council from 2000 to 2008. District director for U.S. Rep. Joe Barton from 2000 to 2009 and was Barton’s chief of staff from 2009 to 2011. In 2011, Wright accepted an appointment to be Tarrant County’s tax assessor-collector of Tarrant County; elected to the position in 2012, re-elected in 2016; elected to Congress in 2018.
Source: Wright’s Congressional office
This is a developing story and will be updated. The Associated Press, NPR and Texas Tribune contributed to this report.
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