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Former Mich. governor Wolpe dead at 71

Howard Wolpe, former U.S. Congressman and Democratic nominee for governor in the state of Michigan, has passed away at the age of 71.

The Detroit News reports Wolpe died at his home in Saugatuck Tuesday night. No cause has been released.

Wolpe served in the U.S. Congress for seven terms, and in 1994 was the Democratic nominee for governor. Wolpe selected Debbie Stabenow as his running mate, after narrowly defeating her in a contentious primary battle. The Wolpe-Stabenow ticket lost that November to the Republican ticket of John Engler and Connie Binsfield.

Wikipedia reports that for 10 of his 14 years in Congress, Wolpe was an expert and leader on African issues and affairs:

A specialist in African politics for ten of his fourteen years in the Congress, Wolpe chaired the Subcommittee on Africa of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. As Africa Subcommittee Chair, Wolpe authored and managed legislation imposing sanctions against South Africa, and over-riding President Ronald Reagan’s veto of the sanctions legislation (the Comprehensive Anti-apartheid Act of 1986). He also authored and managed the passage of the African Famine Recovery and Development Act, — a comprehensive rewrite in the 1980s of America’s approach to development assistance in Africa, that included the creation of the African Development Fund.

Former colleagues are remembering Wolpe, too.

From the Detroit News:

“Howard approached his work in Congress with intelligence, intensity, honesty and a complete devotion to improving the lives of working families and individuals around the globe,” said U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, who served with Wolpe in Congress.

Also from the Detroit News:

“After he was done with politics, he continued to do great work in his area of passion, which was Africa,” said Brewer, who worked for Wolpe when he ran for Governor in 1994. “He’ll really be missed.”

And Rep. John Dingell also posted a statement on his website:

“Today our country lost a true patriot, a devoted teacher, and a wonderful statesman. He was a dear friend of mine who shared my love and care for the great state of Michigan. His impact on public policy in Michigan, our country, and across the world was a positive one. Howard contributed most of his life to bringing civility to government relations and making this world a better place, a passion I was able to witness during Howard’s 14 years here in the House of Representatives. He served Michigan ably and honorably and went on to serve as the Presidential Special Envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes Region, where he initiated peace talks and helped end civil wars in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Debbie and I send our deepest condolences to his wife Julie Fletcher and his son Michael. Howard will be missed tremendously.”

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