ARIZONA NEWS

Longtime US Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona dies at 80

Dec 3, 2022, 3:57 PM | Updated: 5:22 pm
Former Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “The Border ...
Former Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, S.744” (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
(Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

PHOENIX — Former U.S. Representative Jim Kolbe of Southern Arizona died at the age of 80.

Kolbe served in the House of Representatives for 22 years (1985-2007) as a Republican and was succeeded by Gabby Giffords. He served in the Arizona Legislature before being elected in 1984 to Congress.

“Pima County and Southern Arizona could always count on Jim Kolbe,” Pima County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bronson said in a statement on Saturday.

“Whether when he was in the state Legislature or in the Congress, the man from Patagonia always acted in the best interests of Southern Arizona. Jim was old school Republican in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower — a friend of business and the environment.”

Kolbe was the chairman of the Treasury, Post Office and Related Agencies Subcommittee for four years and he chaired the Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Agencies Subcommittee for his final six years in office.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags at all state buildings to be lowered to half-staff until sunset on Sunday to honor Kolbe.

“Arizona lost a true elder statesman and political powerhouse today,” Ducey said in a statement. “Congressman Jim Kolbe never wavered in his responsibility to our state and nation. We are deeply saddened by his passing.”

Kolbe started his political career at 15 as a page for the late U.S Sen. Barry Goldwater in Washington and later served on the board that oversees the page program. He attended Northwestern University and then Stanford, earning a master’s degree in economics.

From 1965 to 1969, he served in the Navy. He was deployed to Vietnam, where he was awarded a congressional medal for valor.

After stints working in the Illinois governor’s office and in real estate, he entered Arizona politics. Kolbe was elected in 1976 to the state Senate and served until 1982. He was sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1985, the first Republican since Arizona statehood to represent a majority-Democratic district in the southern part of the state.

“Congressman Kolbe led a life of remarkable public service,” Ducey said. “A Navy veteran, 11-term congressman, state legislator — even a congressional page for Sen. (Barry) Goldwater — his commitment and dedication were boundless. He was a highly-regarded expert on trade, a champion of the free market and a passionate advocate for the line-item veto. From his community in Tucson, to those in need around the world, Congressman Kolbe had a profound and lasting impact.”

Kolbe announced he was gay in 1996, the second openly gay Republican to ever serve in Congress, after voting against federal recognition of same-sex marriages. He later supported same-sex marriage in a testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2013.

He married his husband, Hector Alfonso, in 2013.

More statements made on Kolbe’s passing:

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(L-R) Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Sen. Todd Youg (R-IN) sit together du...
KTAR.com

Arizona politicians react to Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech

Joe Biden wrapped up his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, and politicians from Arizona responded predominantly along party lines.
1 day ago
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress as ...
KTAR.com

Joe Biden urges Congress to pass comprehensive border reform during State of the Union

President Joe Biden during his State of the Union address urged Republicans and Democrats to work together on border legislature. 
1 day ago
Francisco Gurrola (Department of Public Safety Photo)...
KTAR.com

Silver Alert issued for 41-year-old man last seen in Phoenix

A silver alert was issued on Tuesday evening for a 41-year-old man last seen in the area of Campbell and 63rd avenues in Phoenix.
1 day ago
President Biden gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress at the U.S....
KTAR.com

Watch: President Joe Biden gives 2nd State of Union address

President Joe Biden gave his second State of the Union address in office to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol on Tuesday night.
1 day ago
From left, Kendall Schmidt, Carlos Pena Jr., Logan Henderson and James Maslow, members of Big Time ...
Wills Rice

Big Time Rush’s ‘Can’t Get Enough Tour’ comes to Phoenix in August

For those that grew up with the Nickelodeon television show Big Time Rush, you are in for a big treat when their tour comes to town.
1 day ago
U.S. Department of 
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas addresses the media during a ...
KTAR.com

Homeland Sec. Mayorkas says there is no credible threat against Super Bowl in Arizona

An increased security presence will be deployed at the Super Bowl, with every person, piece of merchandise and equipment screened.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Longtime US Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona dies at 80