Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX), who tested positive for the coronavirus last month, died on Sunday, his family confirmed on Monday morning.
“Congressman Wright will be remembered as a constitutional conservative. He was a statesman, not an ideologue,” their statement read in part.
Wright is the first sitting member of Congress to die of COVID-19. His death came just weeks after Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, a Republican in Louisiana, died after contracting COVID-19—days before he was to take office.
“His wife Susan was by his side and he is now in the presence of their Lord and Savior,” the statement 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.”
Wright—a 67-year-old who was re-elected in November, and hospitalized last year due to complications with cancer—revealed his COVID-19 diagnosis on Jan. 21. In a statement at the time, in which he said he was exhibiting “minor symptoms,” Wright said he had been in quarantine for several days and would continue to do so per the advisement of his medical staff. He did not attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration a day earlier, indicating he watched “from my home in Arlington” after learning he and several members of his staff had come into contact with an individual with COVID-19.
The Republican’s quarantine began just two days after the House voted to impeach former President Donald Trump—which Wright voted against. Wright also initially objected to certifying the Electoral College vote for President Joe Biden, saying in a Jan. 5 statement that “every voice should be heard, every legal vote should be verified, and every law should be followed.”
The following day, even after thousands of MAGA supporters stormed the Capitol to disrupt the vote, Wright maintained his position that there was evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election. The Republican, however, said in a statement he condemned the violence during the insurrection.
“Civil discourse, debate, and peaceful protests are vital to our democracy, but violence is never and will never be the answer. God Bless our great nation,” Wright said.
Wright was elected to represent Texas’ 6th congressional district in 2018 and was a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee. He was re-elected in November, coasting through the primary without opposition, after announcing he had been diagnosed with lung cancer in July 2019.
Prior to serving in Congress, Wright was on the Arlington City Council for eight years and served as mayor pro tempore. The Republican was elected Tarrant County tax assessor-collector in 2010. During his tenure, his office added the motto “In God We Trust” to tax assessment stationery.
Wright was one of at least four Texas members of Congress who have tested positive for COVID-19, including Reps. Kevin Brady, Louie Gohmert, and Kay Granger. The other three lawmakers have since recovered.
“Just hearing of the news about Rep. Ron Wright. The West family adds our condolences and prayers,” Allen West, Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, said in a Monday tweet.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also extended his condolences to the Wright family on Monday, calling the Republican lawmaker “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,” Abbott said in a statement.