James Jeffords, the former-Republican senator who famously tipped the scales against the GOP when he left the party in 2001, has died at the age of 80, reports the Burlington Free Press.
Here’s what we know so far:
1. He Died in a D.C. Retirement Facility
Jeffords died at a facility in Washington D.C. where he was being treated for Alzheimer’s. WCAX reports that Jeffords died at Knollwood, a military retirement facility where he lived for the past eight years.
2. Jeffords Was Vermont’s Most Prominent Republican
He was the last Republican to hold federal office in Vermont. Since Jeffords left the party, the GOP in Vermont have struggled. The Burlington Free Press reported in June about how desperate the party were for money in the state.
3. He Served in D.C. for Over 30 Years
Jeffords retired in 2007 as his Alzheimer’s disease began to take hold. Vermont’s Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy paid tribute to Jeffords in a statement:
He was a partner in our work for Vermont, and he was a friend. He was a Vermonter through and through, drawn to political life to make a difference for our state and nation. Part of his legacy will also stand as an enduring chapter of the Senate’s history.
4. He Was a True Maverick in D.C.
In 2001, Jeffords left the GOP to become an independent over the Republican’s shift to the right. After he left, he became an independent but caucused with the Democrats.
5. He Was a 34-Year Veteran of the Navy
Jeffords was a Yale and Harvard educated lawyer. In addition to his eminent qualifications, Jeffords was in the U.S. Navy from 1956 until his retirement as captain in 1990.