Rich Pahls, a Republican state senator from Nebraska, has died from cancer. He was 78.
Governor Pete Ricketts (R) ordered the flags to be flown at half-staff in Pahls’ honor, according to a local report.
Kansas Republican rep dies
Since Pahls was a sitting representative, the governor will appoint a replacement, and then a special election will be called. Pahls was one of 49 members in the state’s unicameral legislature.
A Kansas native, Pahls worked as a school administrator before entering politics. He had been re-elected to Kansas’s legislature in 2020 after serving eight years as a city councilman in Omaha.
He was first elected to the state legislature in 2004 and was re-elected in 2008.
Upon hearing news of his Wednesday death, Pahls’ colleagues praised his public service, with Governor Ricketts calling him a “true leader.”
“Senator Pahls was a dedicated public servant and a great man. He was committed to improving his community, first as an educator and then through elected service. Nebraska lost a true leader today.”
Faithful public servant remembered
The tributes came from both sides, with Democratic state senator Megan Hunt calling Pahls a “wise and thoughtful man who exemplified the Nebraska Unicameral at its best.”
Republican U.S. congressman Don Bacon, meanwhile, said he was “one of the good guys.”
“We are saddened to hear of the passing of a good friend, Sen Rich Pahls. He was truly one of the good guys, who would look for a way to bridge the divide. His dedication to education and the Millard area will be noted for years to come. Angie and I send our prayers to his family.”
Omaha’s Republican mayor Jean Stothert said that Pahls’ constituents in the city council’s Fifth District “could count on Rich to listen and act on their behalf.”
Pahls was forced by his illness to miss the last weeks of the legislative session, but his colleagues passed a bill he introduced that doubles the sales tax that convention centers and arenas in Omaha, Lincoln, and Ralston can collect.