Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, a Democrat from Ohio who moved from the state Senate to the congressional floor in a historical write-in campaign in 2006, died Sunday at a Florida hospital. He was 70.
Wilson suffered a stroke Feb. 21 while vacationing in Florida and was readmitted to the hospital Saturday night, according to his family. He passed away at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
"Throughout his extraordinary life, Congressman Wilson was motivated by a desire to serve his country and a passion for the causes most important to the constituents of southeast and east Ohio," Wilson's family said Sunday in a statement. "Congressman Wilson served with honor, dignity, and an unwavering sense of civic responsibility to the families of our region. Charlie will be remembered for his boundless energy, his honest approach, and his dedication to improving the lives of our future generations."
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Prior to getting into politics, Wilson was a small business owner and president of Wilson Funeral Homes and Wilson Furniture Store.
He was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1996, and served until 2004 before being elected to the Ohio Senate. There, Wilson was credited with securing funding for police departments, airport improvements, and small business incubators.
"I served with Charlie in the State Legislature for six years and he was a loyal friend in good times and bad," Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern said in a statement. "An outspoken advocate for working people, Charlie never wavered in his service to his constituents or his lifelong pursuit to help improve the lives of others."
After two years in the Ohio Senate, Wilson won his historic write-in campaign in 2006, filling the congressional seat vacated by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. He lost the seat to current Republican Rep. Bill Johnson in 2010, and again in 2012.
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, who defeated Wilson in 2012, said he was saddened to hear of his death and expressed condolences to his family.
"Although Charlie and I were political opponents, we were never enemies. He served with honor in the Ohio state legislature and in Congress," Johnson said in a statement.
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Wilson was not related to former Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, who was the subject of the book and film "Charlie Wilson's War."
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