RIP Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones

It is now, unfortunately, official: Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) has died at age 58.

In the way that some people follow baseball, their minds filled with players' names and stats, I follow Congress. My head is filled with the names of senators and representatives and their voting records, and, like any baseball fan, I have my favorite players in the game of politics—and it's always the ones who treat it least like a game, who know the power they hold and wield it with care and compassion.

Rep. Tubbs Jones was one of those people.

My first introduction to Rep. Tubbs Jones was in 2004, when, in only the second House election challenge since 1877, she took to the floor of the House to object to the certification of Ohio's electoral votes. She looked right at Dick Cheney and said: "Mr. Vice President, I seek to object to the electoral votes from the state of Ohio on the grounds that they were not, under all of the circumstances known, regularly given, and I have a signed objection, and I do have a Senator." It was enough that she stood up for what was right, but the cheeky flourish at the end—an allusion to the Congressional Black Caucus challenge of the 2000 election, when they could not find a single senator to sign the objection (a scene made infamous in Fahrenheit 9/11)—made me love her. She was fearless, and she was funny.

She was also "tough, exuberant, passionate, partisan, a woman from modest means who rose to national prominence."

And "one of a kind…unwavering, indefatigable," according to the Clintons.

And "an extraordinary American and an outstanding public servant" who was "determined to bring opportunity to all those who had been overlooked and left behind," according to Barack Obama.

And "a strong, courageous and compassionate advocate for the poor and vulnerable" according to Ohio Governor Ted Strickland.

And "a tireless force for justice, equality, and opportunity," according to Nancy Pelosi.

And "a force of nature and always the most popular and gregarious person in any room," according to Steve LaTourette, a Republican congressman from Concord Township, Ohio.

And a "beautiful, bubbling, charismatic woman" who "was so highly talented" and "lit the room up" wherever she went, according to Louis Stokes, the former Congressman whose vacated seat she filled upon his retirement.

Said Rev. Jesse Jackson: "Her word had value to her. It didn't waver in the wind."

I am heartbroken she is gone. I am glad I had the chance to admire her from afar.

* * *

Here's "Judge Tubbs" having fun with Stephen Colbert:

RIP Judge Tubbs.

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