Jim Kolbe, a Republican congressman who supported gay rights and served for more than two decades as a representative of a predominantly Democratic area of Arizona, has passed away. Let’s see How did Longtime Arizona GOP Representative Jim Kolbe die and Jim Kolbe Cause of death in detail.
How did Jim Kolbe die?
Jim Kolbe, a former congressman from Tucson who was a moderate Republican and supported free trade and more lenient immigration laws throughout his 22 years in office, passed away at the age of 80.
In a statement, Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona confirmed Kolbe’s passing on Saturday.
Arizona lost a true elder statesman and political powerhouse today. Congressman Jim Kolbe never wavered in his responsibility to our state and nation. We are deeply saddened by his passing. 1/
— Doug Ducey (@DougDucey) December 3, 2022
Till Sunday evening, Ducey ordered the flags to be lowered.
In a written statement released on Saturday to announce his passing, Sharon Bronson, the chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, said, “Pima County and Southern Arizona could always count on Jim Kolbe.”
Statement from Pima County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bronson on the passing of former state legislator and U.S. Congressman Jim Kolbe:
“Pima County and Southern Arizona could always count on Jim Kolbe. Whether when he was in the state Legislature or in the Congress …
— Official Pima County (@pimaarizona) December 3, 2022
“Jim was old school Republican in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower – a friend of business and the environment.
“The preservation and conservation of beloved wild spaces and cultural treasures like Canoa Ranch and the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area are the result in large part to Jim’s leadership while in the Congress.”
Jim Kolbe Cause of death
Jim Kolbe cause of death was not disclosed yet. There are no information available about Jim Kolbe cause of death.
Medico topics have been trying to reach out to the family and relatives for comment on the incident. So far no responses have been received. We will update the page once enough information is available. More information on Jim Kolbe cause of death will be added soon.
Who was Jim Kolbe?
Although Kolbe was raised in Patagonia, he was born in Evanston, Illinois.
John Kolbe, Jim’s older brother, who rose to prominence as a political columnist for the Phoenix Gazette and The Arizona Republic before passing away from cancer in 1998, and Jim both developed a passion for politics because of their family’s interest in it.
Jim Kolbe started his career in the public sector early on.
Kolbe served as Barry Goldwater, a Republican senator from Arizona page, in Washington from 1958 to 1960.
In 1965, he graduated with a bachelor’s in political science from Northwestern University, and two years later, he earned a master’s in business administration from Stanford University.
Vietnam War Period
He served in the U.S. Navy’s active combat unit for two years during the Vietnam War before joining the Naval Reserve in 1977.
Following the conclusion of his active duty in 1969, Kolbe served as the governor of Illinois’ special assistant for capital projects and the Illinois Building Authority.
He moved back to Arizona and started working in real estate, but he also started planning to run for office. He won the first of his three terms in the Arizona Senate in 1976.
With votes in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment and a plan to provide certain immigrants living in Arizona access to in-state college tuition, he rapidly established himself as a moderate there.
Kolbe, called the “Happy Warrior” by some, left the Legislature in 1982 to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Kolbe said in 1982,
“When you hear the word ‘liberal’ used about me, they are usually talking about two issues − the ERA and abortion,”
“I don’t think I’m a liberal at all. I have a background in economics at Stanford University, a pretty conservative institution, and I am death on government regulations.”
1982 Economic Policy
Kolbe ran against Democrat Jim McNulty in a contest that served mostly as a referendum on Reagan’s handling of the economy at a time when the country was still recovering from high unemployment and interest rates.
Kolbe narrowly defeated McNulty in a rematch in 1984 after losing by fewer than 2 percentage points the first time.
The public overwhelmingly credited Kolbe’s economic policies from 1982 because the economy was in better health by that point.
Kolbe also criticized McNulty’s voting history in Washington, calling it “bizarre” and “erratic.” Kolbe pointed out that McNulty had voted in favor of punishing employers who knowingly hired illegal immigrants.
He declared that he would have opposed the legislation, which helped him win over some of the Hispanic voters who supported McNulty’s election in 1982. I
It was the beginning of Kolbe’s 22-year tenure in Washington, during which time the GOP transitioned from being in the House’s minority for many years to taking control following the 1994 elections.
Credit : Arizona Public Media.
Former Senator Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., remembered Kolbe
Dennis DeConcini, a former senator from Arizona and Democrat, remembered Kolbe as a good man who worked for his district.
According to DeConcini, they worked on border legislation, astronomy, indigenous concerns, and water difficulties.
DeConcini, who was an opponent of Goldwater, Dole, and even Reagan during his three terms in the Senate beginning after the 1976 elections, said of him, “To me, he is what the Republican Party used to be under Goldwater, Bob Dole, and even Ronald Reagan.”
“They were conservative with less government and what have you, but they listened to people. Jim had a way to listen to somebody even if he disagreed.
He paid attention like you’re important to me. He’s a wonderful man and such a decent guy.
He was a typical congressman you could work with no matter what side of the aisle he was on.”
“Keating Five” affair
After the “Keating Five” affair, which led the Senate Ethics Committee to conclude that DeConcini had obstructed the subsequent inquiry, the relationship between DeConcini and the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., suffered.
Kolbe informed DeConcini that he would be visiting McCain at his Cornville property when his time on earth dwindled in 2018.
As an ambassador on DeConcini’s behalf, Kolbe received a letter from DeConcini.
‘Don’t worry Dennis.
John is over any of the problems he had.’ That meant a lot to me personally to have somebody that would care enough to go out of his way for someone who was not a close, dear friend.”
Over time, Kolbe gained more control over the Democratic-leaning 5th Congressional District. He received about 70% of the vote in 1992 and won elections after that with even greater percentages.
There was little political opposition from either Democrats, who made up the majority of registered voters, or Republicans, who complained about Kolbe’s moderate votes.
He said in 1994,
“Fifth District people want the government to act fiscally responsible, like they must with their own families, but they don’t want government involved in every part of their lives.”
Kolbe’s Private life
Kolbe was a social moderate and fiscal conservative in Washington.
He advocated for ending the production of the penny, which he claimed was overpriced and backed a constitutional amendment that would outlaw the burning of the American flag.
He opposed abortion restrictions because he opposed state meddling in people’s private affairs.
Kolbe’s private life briefly captured public attention in August 1996.
His brother revealed Jim Kolbe’s homosexuality in a front-page editorial for The Republic.
That I am a gay person has never affected the way that I legislate.”
Defense of Marriage Act
Jim Kolbe came out in advance of a gay community campaign to expose Jim Kolbe’s sexual orientation as retaliation for his support of the Defense of Marriage Act.
As it was known, DOMA gave states the option to disregard gay marriages that had a place in other states.
It was in response to a court decision in Hawaii that left open the prospect of legalizing homosexual marriage in that state, and it served as the rule of law until the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage twice, in 2013 and 2015.
Jim Kolbe claimed that he supported DOMA because he wanted states to have the autonomy to make their own decisions.
In Washington, D.C., where homosexual marriage was permitted, Kolbe wed Hector Alfonso, a teacher from Panama, in 2013.
At around the same time, he gave a testimony before the U.S. Senate about the necessity of providing same-sex couples with legal protections in a comprehensive immigration measure that was under consideration but eventually failed.
1996 Grand Canyon investigation
Federal prosecutors launched an inquiry into Kolbe and two 17-year-old former congressional pages’ rafting excursion in the Grand Canyon in the summer of 1996 in October 2006, just before his time in Congress came to an end.
The trip also included five staff members and Kolbe’s sister. After several months, the Justice Department declared there was no justification for continuing the inquiry.
However, the Kolbe investigation was launched shortly after Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla. resigned because of claims that he had sent inappropriate messages to underage pages while serving in the House.
A page had complained to Kolbe in 2001 that Foley had written him emails that had made him feel uneasy, according to the House investigation into the case.
Kolbe claimed that he brought up the issue with Foley and forwarded it to the House clerk.
After Leaving Congress
After leaving Congress, Kolbe worked as a consultant for Kissinger McLarty Associates and a fellow at the German Marshall Fund, a nonpartisan research tank specialising in transatlantic trade.
At the law school of the University of Arizona, he instructed a course on commerce.
He remained a Republican, although he frequently gave Democratic causes the illusion of bipartisanship. Barack Obama, who was president at the time, appointed him a trade adviser.
In the 2010 contest for Arizona treasurer, he endorsed Democrat Andrei Cherny over Republican Doug Ducey.
Kolbe also resigned from his position as campaign chairman for the leading Republican running to reclaim the House seat he formerly held.
His voter registration
Kolbe changed his voter registration from Republican to independent in September 2018 while President Donald Trump was still in office.
In 2020, the year he endorsed Democrat Joe Biden over Republican Donald Trump, Kolbe told The Arizona Republic,
“People are making a bigger deal about (the voter registration change) than I have.”
“I’ve always been fairly independent in my thinking. It doesn’t change my values.”
Tributes to Jim Kolbe
Many people expressed their profound sympathies to his family and expressed how much they loved him.
Andrew Dresser tweeted,
“Shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend, Jim Kolbe. Jim was a gentleman, statesman, and a trailblazer – especially for us LGBT Republicans. Sending my deepest condolences to his husband, Hector, and his extended family.”
Deeply saddened to hear of the loss of a great Tucsonan and great man. The tireless public servant Jim Kolbe has passed away.
My thoughts are with his friends and family and his husband during these difficult times. https://t.co/MkT6P0yrqF
— Daniel Hernandez Jr (@danielforaz) December 3, 2022
Martha McSally tweeted,
“Deeply saddened by the passing of my friend and AZ Statesman Jim Kolbe. He tirelessly served his constituents and blessed so many of us with his love, hospitality, intellect, and kindness. Prayers for Hector and all missing him. Rest in peace, Jim.”
Norman Ornstein tweeted,
“I just learned of the passing of Jim Kolbe, a former Republican congressman from Arizona, a throwback to the time when there were decent conservatives from Arizona in Congress. Jim was a good man, conscientious and honest, an excellent lawmaker.”
Adam Kwasman tweeted,
“Jim Kolbe gave me my first job in politics, as a House Page (and then my second in his office). He showed me the best of what elected service could be. He inspired a 16 year old young man to dedicate a life to public service. For that, I can’t thank him enough. RIP.”
Congressman Kolbe was a generous person and a strong advocate for S. Az and environmental conservation. I still remember his words of encouragement when I announced for his former seat. My sincere condolences to his family. https://t.co/KBnXrJiSFU
— Kirsten Engel (@EngelForArizona) December 3, 2022
Ami Francisco tweeted,
“Congressman Jim Kolbe was one of the hardest working member I ever knew. He cared deeply for Arizona and her citizens. He was a true statesman. Rest In Peace and God Speed Sir.”
One of the worst things anyone can go through in life is losing a loved one. Any journey must have a destination at the end. The person’s time on earth has regrettably come to an end now that they have died.
We wish him eternal peace and send our thoughts and prayers to his loved ones, family, friends. May he rest in peace.
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