Jean Carnahan, First Woman to Represent Missouri in U.S. Senate, Dies at 90

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Jean Carnahan, who in 2001 became the first woman to represent Missouri in the U.S. Senate after being appointed to fill her husband’s seat following his posthumous election, died on Tuesday at a hospice in St. Louis County. She was 90.

She died following a brief illness, her family said in a statement. No cause of death was given.

Ms. Carnahan, the wife of Mel Carnahan, was appointed to the U.S. Senate from Missouri in December 2000, following Mr. Carnahan’s election just weeks after he was killed in a plane crash with one of their sons and a longtime aide. Ms. Carnahan was sworn in on Jan. 3, 2001.

“I know I did not come to the U.S. Senate in the same way you did,” Ms. Carnahan said in remarks to her new Senate colleagues. “I did not have a long-term, personal commitment to a campaign. My name has never been on a ballot. On election night there was no victory celebration. You are here because of your win; I am here because of my loss. But we are all here to do the work of this great nation.”

Ms. Carnahan, a moderate Democrat who had never held public office before being appointed to fill in for her husband, served for nearly two years. She lost to Jim Talent, a Republican, by 22,000 votes in November 2002.

Following her defeat, Ms. Carnahan told The New York Times that despite the tumult and heartache she had endured, she had always pushed bitterness aside. “It’s an acid in your life that corrodes your soul,” she told The Times.

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Jean Carnahan, First Woman to Represent Missouri in U.S. Senate, Dies at 90

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