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Jean Carnahan, Missouri’s first female U.S. senator, dies at 90: ‘A fearless trailblazer’

Former U.S. Senator Jean Carnahan, who served in the Senate from 2001 to 2002, passed away on Tuesday after a brief illness. She was 90 years old and was born in 1933.

Former U.S. Senator Jean Carnahan died on Tuesday at the age of 90, her family announced.

In a statement on Tuesday, Carnahan’s family said that she “passed peacefully after a long and rich life.”

“She was a fearless trailblazer,” the statement read. “She was brilliant, creative, compassionate and dedicated to her family and her fellow Missourians.”


Carnahan’s cause of death is unknown, but her family disclosed that she passed away after a brief illness.

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Carnahan served as a Democrat in the U.S. Senate from Jan. 3, 2001 to Nov. 25, 2002. She ascended to the position after her husband Mel was elected posthumously in 2000.

Mel, who died in a plane crash along with his son in 2000, had served as the Governor of Missouri from 1992 until his death. He was running for U.S. Senate against incumbent John Ashcroft when he passed away.

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Jean and Mel were married on June 12, 1954, after previously meeting at a church event. Jean, who was born in D.C., graduated from George Washington University a year later.

Jean was succeeded by Republican Jim Talent, who won a special election against her in 2002.

“My name has never been on a ballot. On election night, there was no victory celebration,” Carnahan said after she was appointed to the U.S. Senate. “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.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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