Freshman Rep. Walter Capps, a California Democrat who came to Washington as a rare liberal in a traditionally Republican district, died Tuesday afternoon after being stricken by an apparent heart attack at Dulles International Airport.
Colleagues said Capps, 63, of Santa Barbara, was en route back to Washington as the House prepared to vote on a defense authorization bill and other issues Tuesday. Capps collapsed about 6 p.m. EDT at the airport, said friend Marty Stone.
In a statement, President Clinton said Capps “brought constant values, a rare perspective and a sense of moral grounding that public life too often lacks, and will sorely miss.”
Capps was a member of the 1996 freshman class, narrowly defeating Republican incumbent Andrea Seastrand to become the first Democrat elected since World War II from what is now California’s 22nd House district.
He had been a professor of religious studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara for more than 30 years. He wrote 14 books and was a nationally recognized expert on the issues of American democracy and peace and conflict studies.