Va. lawmakers react to death of former Gov. Gerald Baliles

Updated: Oct. 29, 2019 at 6:14 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The flags at the state capitol will fly at half staff for the next 30 days, in honor of Gerald Baliles.

The 65th governor of Virginia died early Tuesday, surrounded by his family. He was suffering from a form of kidney cancer called renal cell carcinoma.

“We’ve lost a giant in the Commonwealth, and we wish the best to his family,” said Gov. Ralph Northam.

Gov. Northam shared some thoughts Tuesday on the man he called a mentor and true friend – recalling that he met Baliles back when he was running for lieutenant governor.

“There were several things that I admire him for. One: he really was very passionate about transportation,” the governor said.

Part of Baliles’ legacy remains with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which released a statement saying that Governor Baliles “laid the foundation for the Bay restoration efforts."

The late governor will also be remembered for his inclusivity:

“He made the first appointment of a woman to the Supreme Court of Virginia,” said former Gov. Douglas Wilder.

Wilder served as lieutenant governor during Baliles’ term. He says him and Baliles formed a close bond that helped guide him when Wilder succeeded Baliles in the Governor’s office.

“When I got to being governor, I found out how little I knew. It takes the experience of being there, and Gerry had it, he shared it and we all miss him,” Wilder said.

But the loss extends across party lines.

Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment told NBC12 over the phone that “it’s a sadness when you lose a truly great Virginian who loved the Commonwealth and worked on both sides of the aisle to promote - to be a wonderful state.”

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