Rep. Lantos Dies

Posted February 11, 2008 at 9:02am

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, died this morning at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. He was 80. Lantos, who was serving his 14th term, announced last month that he would not seek re-election because he had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Born in Hungary, Lantos, who was Jewish, twice fled German concentration camps during World War II before coming to the United States as a young man. He was the father-in-law of former Rep. Dick Swett (D-N.H.), and his daughter, Katrina Swett (D), has also run for political office in the Granite State. There is no word yet on funeral arrangements for the late Congressman, who will take his committee gavel or when a special election will be held to succeed him. The San Francisco-area 12th district is a Democratic stronghold. As soon as Lantos had announced his retirement plans, former state Sen. Jackie Speier (D), who was contemplating challenging him in the Democratic primary, became the frontrunner to succeed him. Even with a special election, that should not change. — Josh Kurtz