U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, a Republican from Mississippi, has died, his family said in a statement Friday.
“Congressman Alan Nunnelee has gone home to be with Jesus. He was well loved and will be greatly missed,” his family said in a statement.
The Republican congressman from Mississippi was 56-years-old and died after a battle with brain cancer. He had been diagnosed with a brain tumor in the spring.
Nunnelee cruised to reelection in November, but could not travel to take the oath of office on Capitol Hill because of his medical condition. He was sworn in from a medical center in Mississippi on Jan. 12.
President Barack Obama remembered Nunnelee as a dedicated public servant and a man of faith.
“Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Representative Alan Nunnelee,” Obama said in a statement. “A proud son of Tupelo, Alan never wavered in his determination to serve the men and women who placed their trust in him, even as he bravely battled the illness that ultimately took his life. As a Sunday School teacher and a deacon at his church, Alan believed deeply in the power of faith and the strength of American families.”
House Speaker John Boehner also praised the Mississippi congressman in a statement Friday as “the rare calming presence in the cauldron of politics.”
“Alan Nunnelee served this House with grace and distinction,” Boehner said.
“He never let cancer get the best of him. We know this because, at the end of his life, all Alan asked of us was whether he made a difference. Indeed he did, very much so,” Boehner said. “But there is more to it than that. Because when you think about all the good Alan did and all the lives he touched, it is plain that he will continue to make a difference.”
Nunnelee was operated on this summer but after numerous complications, he entered hospice care on Monday, Jan. 26.
His death sets up a special election for the deep-red northern Mississippi seat. According to Mississippi election law, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has 60 days from the time the seat becomes vacant to set an election date, which must be set more than 60 days after that.
The election, then, could take place as early as April, but will most likely be set along with the rest of Mississippi’s off-year elections, in August.
The congressman rode the tea party wave to the House of Representatives in 2010 to win his first term, unseating Rep. Travis Childers who would later become the unsuccessful Democratic nominee in the 2014 Senate race against Sen. Thad Cochran.
Prior to his election to Congress, Nunnelee served as a state legislator in the Mississippi State Senate.
Nunnelee is survived by his wife Tori and their three children, Reed, Emily and Nathan as well as their two grandchildren Thomas and Harper.
Condolences quickly poured in from the political world, both in Washington and back in Mississippi, from Republicans and Democrats alike.
Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran said in a statement Friday he is “grateful for [Nunnelee’s] friendship and all he accomplished for our state.”
“We have lost a true public servant with the passing of Alan Nunnelee, who dedicated so much of his life to improving Mississippi,” Cochran said. “My thoughts and prayers are with Tori and the entire Nunnelee family at this sad time.”
Rep. Steve Palazzo, one of Nunnelee’s three House colleagues from Mississippi, called Nunnelee a “fantastic legislator” and a “friend” in a statement Friday.
“Alan was not only a fantastic legislator, but a trusted colleague, friend, and shining example of the Mississippi values that we all hold near and dear to our hearts,” he said in a statement. “My prayers go out to Alan’s wife Tori, his family, and the staff that he always treated like family. He will be missed greatly.”
And Nunnelee’s sole Democratic colleague from Mississippi, Rep. Bennie Thompson said in a statement he is “deeply saddened” by Nunnelee’s passing and offered his condolences to the congressman’s family.
“Throughout our service together in Washington, Alan would always remember to ask about my family each time we spoke, especially my grandchildren. We worked together on multiple issues to help improve the lives of Mississippians; he was always friendly, passionate and cooperative on the issues,” Thompson said in a statement. “My sympathies go out to his loved ones during this time, and I hope they take comfort in his peace.”
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond and Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this report.