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Jim Kolbe, Former Arizona Republican, Dies

Former Arizona Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe died Saturday at 80.

Kolbe was a member of Congress from 1985 until 2007 in which time Kolbe represented southern Arizona between the 8th and 5th Congressional Districts.

“Arizona lost a true elder statesman and political powerhouse today,” Arizona Governor Doug Ducey tweeted. “Congressman Jim Kolbe never wavered in his responsibilities to the nation and our state. We are devastated by his death.”

The governor instructed flags to remain at half-staff through Sunday night in honor of Kolbe, who was a Vietnam War Navy veteran. Ducey, as well as Democratic Representative Greg Stanton, mentioned how he emphasized business relations between the United States and Mexico throughout his political career.

“Very shocked to learn that Rep. Jim Kolbe's death. He represented our state with decency, respect, and grit for many years, and I was pleased to have worked closely with Kolbe in the past few years to improve Arizona's economic ties to Mexico. My thoughts are with his loved ones,” Stanton said.

Kolbe n he came out in 1996. He got married to his husband Hector Alfonso in 2013. He was a Republican in opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. He was slammed by gay rights advocates at the time according to The Huffington Post.

“Jim Kolbe was a friend, mentor and impactful leader,” Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick tweeted. “Throughout his life, he prioritized the southern part of Arizona and our beautiful state. I extend my heartfelt sympathies to his loved ones.”In later years, the former congressman supported an assortment of Republicans as well as Democrats and even Democrat Attorney General candidate Kris Mayes. He was reportedly no longer an official Republican at the time of his death, as per The Tucson Sentinel.

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