Jim Mattox Dies, Age 65

Former Democratic congressman and attorney general passes on last night: Tributes begin

Jim Mattox Dies, Age 65

We'd heard the rumor earlier this morning, but were waiting for confirmation: Democratic party mainstay Jim Mattox died in his sleep last night, age 65. The former state rep, three-time Fifth District congressman and two-time Texas attorney general is survived by his wife Marta.

Mattox, who was a mainstay of Texas politics for much of the 1980s and 1990s, remained active in Democratic circles to the end: last week, he attended the panel discussion on reforming the Texas Two-Step nomination process.

Newsdesk would like to pass on our condolences to his family and friends.

UPDATE: See below the fold for tributes from Texas Democratic Party chair Boyd Richie, Attorney General Greg Abbott, and Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller.

FURTHER UPDATE: Gov. Rick Perry has now added his own tribute, and ordered that all U.S. and Texas flags under state control be immediately placed at half-mast through Nov. 21, and then again on the day of Mattox's interment. He asks that local government, businesses and individuals follow suit, to pay their respects.

Gov. Rick Perry: "Anita and I extend our sincere condolences and prayers to his family and his friends all over the state."

TDP Chairman Boyd Richie: "Both Betty and I were deeply saddened to learn that our good friend Jim Mattox passed away yesterday evening. A tough public servant, Jim's life was spent working for the interests of all Texans. His legacy of service and dedication to our great state will endure, and he will be dearly missed.

Through his decades of service in our Texas State House, U.S. Congress and as Texas Attorney General, Jim was known as a tenacious advocate for the people of Texas. As Attorney General, Jim prioritized child support enforcement, benefitting hard-working parents and children across our state. He also won accolades for his aggressive support of consumer protection initiatives and acted as a tough corporate watchdog. Jim truly represented the best interests of Texans and will not soon be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mattox family and friends as they face this difficult loss."

Attorney General Greg Abbott: "Jim Mattox was a passionate public servant whose larger-than-life persona left an indelible impression on the Texas Capitol. He will long be remembered for his dedicated service in the Texas Legislature, the U.S. Congress and as the 47th Attorney General of Texas. Cecilia and I extend our deepest sympathies to the Mattox family."

Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller: "Jim Mattox had a gruff exterior and a golden heart. His mission in public service was not to go along to get along or even to make friends, though he still made many. Instead, Jim believed in opportunity and justice for all as the highest priority. He stood in the great populist tradition that even a conservative state like Texas builds a loyal opposition that fights like hell for the downtrodden. His heroes were people like James Allred and Ralph Yarborough."

"Like those populists, Mattox won some, took his lumps and maybe even occasionally stepped over lines of propriety. But he never wavered. There was never any doubt about Jim Mattox's love and support for Texas and the working families of this state, nor about his skeptical eye toward the powers-that-be."

"The Texas AFL-CIO has lost a great, lifelong friend and we will miss him mightily. We take comfort in knowing how much Jim enjoyed the 2008 elections after the long trek in the wilderness by his beloved Democratic Party. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the Mattox family. Jim Mattox was one of a kind."

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