Former Rep. Jack Kemp dies

The Buffalo Bills quarterback and one-time Republican vice presidential nominee was 73.

By Alex Koppelman
Published May 3, 2009 3:10AM (EDT)

Former Rep. Jack Kemp, R-N.Y., Bob Dole's running mate in 1996, died Saturday evening. He was 73.

Kemp first came to prominence as a football player, quarterbacking the Los Angeles (later San Diego) Chargers and, most famously, the Buffalo Bills.

Elected to Congress in 1970, he remained in the House of Representatives for nine terms, leaving his seat after opting not to run for it at the same time he was mounting an ultimately unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988. He served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President George H.W. Bush before ending his political career as the number-two man on Dole's ticket in 1996. Kemp's influence on the GOP persists today, however, as he was instrumental in persuading the party and its elected officials to embrace supply-side tax policies, and he continued to advocate for that philosophy even after he was finished running for elected office.

Kemp's office disclosed in January of this year that the former congressman had been diagnosed with cancer, but provided no further details at the time. In a statement released Saturday, his family said, "Jack Kemp passed peacefully into the presence of the Lord shortly after 6 o’clock this evening, surrounded by the love of his family and pastor, and believing with Isaiah, 'My strength and my courage is the Lord.' During the treatment of his cancer, Jack expressed his gratitude for the thoughts and prayers of so many friends, a gratitude which the Kemp family shares.”

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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