Rep. Jackie Walorski died while on the road in her district, Wednesday afternoon. The men and women of Congress take trips through the territory they represent frequently, and one Indiana senator acknowledged the inherent risk that comes with that while remembering his friend and colleague.
“All of us are on the road a lot. You never imagine that one day that could happen,” said Sen. Mike Braun, who like Walorski, is a Republican from Indiana.
Braun and his counterpart Sen. Todd Young both spoke of friendship with the rep from northern Indiana, on the Senate floor Wednesday evening.
“You spend those hours, endless sometimes,” said Braun, of the road trips between home and Washington. Members of Congress usually fly home and visit their districts to talk with constituents, sometimes for town halls and sometimes to find out how they feel about a particular piece of legislation being considered.
“When I heard that (news of her death) it’s like the ultimate gut punch,” said Braun.
Young recalled the love Walorski had for her district and the Hoosiers who lived there and throughout Indiana. She had been in Congress for nearly ten years, elected in 2012. Before that she served in the Indiana legislature.
“She had an incredible sense of humor, incredibly smart and so talented in many ways. She’ll be missed,” he said.
Both men acknowledged the two members of her staff who were killed in the same wreck in Elkhart County, near Napanee.
“Emma Thompson, Zach Potts along with her, three Hoosiers that we will miss,” said Braun, who also recalled that Walorski was one of the first members of the Indiana Congressional delegation he met when deciding whether to run for Senate.
News of Walorski’s death brough condolences from members of both parties. President Joe Biden issued a statement Wednesday evening.
“Born in her beloved South Bend as the daughter of a meat-cutter and firefighter, she spent a lifetime serving the community that she grew up in – as a journalist, a nonprofit director, a state legislator, and eventually as a Member of Congress for the past nine and half years,” acknowledged Biden.
“We may have represented different parties and disagreed on many issues, but she was respected by members of both parties for her work on the House Ways and Means Committee on which she served. She also served as co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus, and my team and I appreciated her partnership as we plan for a historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health this fall that will be marked by her deep care for the needs of rural America.”
Walorski was 58, and was just two weeks away from her 59th birthday. The governor has ordered flags at half staff and now has the duty of setting a date for a special election to fill her seat.