Former Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) died on Wednesday morning at the age of 85, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Domenici, the son of Italian immigrants, was the longer-serving senator in the history of New Mexico, holding office from 1973 to 2009. He was formerly the mayor of Albuquerque, and chaired the Budget and Energy and Natural Resources Committees. He was planning to run for another term in 2007, but his doctors diagnosed him with a degenerative brain disease. After hearing this news he retired.
Domenici was in intensive care for recovery from a recent surgery when he died. The death was confirmed by his wife, Nancy, and his son, Pete Domenici Jr. He was surrounded by family and friends in a comfortable environment when he passed.
“He is out of pain and we all feel good about that,” Domenicis said according to ABQ Journal. “We are grateful for all of the people who helped here at the hospital and elsewhere.”
“Like others in this chamber, I served with Sen. Domenici for many years,” said Senator McConnell. “I came to know him as smart, hard-working and dedicated — and a very strong advocate for his home state of New Mexico. We are all saddened by this news today. The Senate offers its condolences to Senator Domenici’s family, especially his wife Nancy.”
Born in 1932, Domenici became a standout baseball player. Before he went into politics he went to law school and became a lawyer. Him and his wife, Nancy, met as students as the University of New Mexico and quickly became inseparable. The couple were practicing Roman Catholics and had 8 children together.
During his six Senate terms, Domenici accumulated a large list of accomplishments. He played a critical role in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which led to rare budget surpluses from 1998 to 2001. He also pushed for legislation that would provide health coverage for those with mental health disabilities, since his own daughter suffered from schizophrenia. Due in part to the New Mexico Senator, President George W. Bush signed into law the Mental health Parity Act in 2008.
Domenici was also known as Congress' most ardent supporter of nuclear power. In 1988, Domenici was on a short list of possible vice presidential running mates under consideration by George H.W. Bush.
The New Mexico Senator was known for being able to reach across the aisle in pursuit of bipartisan deals.
“I am not just a Republican senator,” Domenici said in 1996 according to ABQ Journal. “It is not a Republican role. The facts are, when I got elected, I got elected by a lot of Democrats.”
Please pray for his grieving family. In breaking news, 5 are dead and 120 have been evacuated from a Florida nursing home.