Texas Republican Becomes First Member of Congress to Die After Getting Virus

Congressman Ron Wright’s death following his Covid-19 diagnosis came after a yearslong battle with lung cancer.

U.S. Rep. Ron Wright, R-Texas, is seen on Capitol Hill in 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

DALLAS (CN) — Republican Texas Congressman Ron Wright died Sunday after being treated for Covid-19, becoming the first sitting member of Congress to die after a coronavirus diagnosis.

Wright, 67, first announced his diagnosis on Jan. 21. He said at the time he had been in quarantine since Jan. 15 after coming into contact with an unidentified infected person. The lawmaker said he was feeling “okay” with minor symptoms and would continue working from home. Wright and his wife Susan were later admitted to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, according to a statement Monday morning by Wright’s campaign.

Wright’s Covid-19 diagnosis came during his yearslong treatment for lung cancer. His staff said he kept a “rigorous work schedule” on the House floor for several years in spite of the cancer treatments.

“We ask that everyone give Susan and the entire Wright family and staff time to grieve. Additional information will be available on funeral arrangements and ways to honor Congressman Wright in the days to come,” Wright’s campaign said. “Congressman Wright is survived by his wife Susan; his son Derek; his son Justin and wife Susan; his daughter Rachel and husband Jeff; his brother Gary and wife Janis; nine grandchildren; cousins and extended family.”

Wright was serving his second term representing Texas’ 6th District, which stretches from the southeast side of Tarrant County into Ellis and Navarro counties. It includes parts of Fort Worth, Arlington and the areas south of Dallas. He replaced Republican Joe Barton, who declined to seek re-election in 2018 after he was accused of sending inappropriate messages and a nude image of himself.

Wright served as Barton’s chief of staff from 2009 to 2011. He served on the Arlington City Council from 2000 to 2008 and as Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector from 2011 to 2018.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said he was “honored” to have met Wright before he was elected to Congress.

“Ron Wright was a fighter who passionately served his constituents, Texas, and America,” McCarthy said in a statement. “As a member of the Arlington City Council, as a congressional staffer, and as a member of Congress, he led with principle, integrity, and thoughtfulness.”

Congressman Colin Allred, D-Dallas, said Wright was “a man of principle” who will be missed.

“I am greatly saddened to hear of Congressman Wright’s passing,” he said in a statement. “When I was looking for a Republican to help lead the push to create the Garland VA [hospital], Ron Wright stepped up and was with me every step of the way.”

U.S. Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, lauded Wright as a “Texan first and foremost” who always put his community first.

“Ron was a passionate public servant and a strong advocate for Texas values, his neighbors in North Texas, and constituents across Texas’ 6th District,” Cornyn said.

Wright’s death comes two months after Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, 41, died from Covid-19 before he was sworn into office. A special election to fill Letlow’s vacant seat is scheduled for March 20.

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