Former US Sen. Kay Hagan of NC dies at 66

Kay Hagan, a former U.S. Senator from North Carolina, has died, her family said. She was 66.

“We are heartbroken to share that Kay left us unexpectedly this morning,” her family said in a statement, according to The Charlotte Observer. “Kay meant everything to us, and we were honored to share her with the people of North Carolina whom she cared for and fought for so passionately as an elected official. Most of all, we already miss her humor and spirit as the hub of our family, a role she loved more than anything. Nobody could light up a room and make people feel welcome like Kay.”

Hagan, a Democrat, served as a Senator from 2009 to 2015. When Hagan defeated Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole in the 2008 election, she became the first woman to defeat an incumbent woman in a U.S. Senate election. 

She previously served in the North Carolina Senate from 1999 to 2009.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper released the following statement in response to Sen. Hagan's passing:

Kristin and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend Senator Kay Hagan. I’ve known Kay since our days in the legislature together. Kay was a fierce advocate for North Carolina, and she represented our state with courage and grace her entire career. She made it a mission to inspire young people - especially young girls - to enter public service, and she served as a role model to so many. North Carolina is mourning one of our best today.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) released the following statement on the passing of former North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan:

“Brooke and I are deeply saddened by the sudden and untimely loss of Kay Hagan. Kay dedicated much of her life to serving North Carolina, and she will be remembered for her tireless work on behalf of the home and the people she loved. In our time as Senate colleagues, we worked across the aisle together frequently on issues that we both knew would determine what type of country our children would inherit, from conservation to our common defense. She tackled everything she did with a passion and a sense of humor that will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

Sen. Thom Tillis released the following statement:

“Susan and I are absolutely heartbroken by Senator Kay Hagan’s sudden passing and we extend our condolences and prayers to her loving family and many friends. We join all North Carolinians in remembering her dedicated and distinguished record of public service to our state and nation.”

Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12) statement on Hagan's death:

“It is with great sadness that I mourn the loss of former United States Senator, and General Assembly colleague, Janet Kay Hagan. Senator Hagan was a champion for all people, supporting legislation that expanded the rights of women, immigrants, veterans and members of the LGBTQ community. She fought tirelessly for gun reform and improved access to healthcare, remaining true to the people she served until the very end. Senator Hagan’s work in public office was nothing short of commendable, and she will truly be missed. My prayers and thoughts are with Senator Hagan’s husband, Chip, their children, and the entire Hagan family during this difficult time.”

Vice President Joe Biden on the Senator's passing:

"Kay Hagan was a courageous soul who lived every day of her too-short life with incredible dignity and character, even as the days became more difficult physically. Jill and I are deeply saddened by this news, and extend our condolences to her loving husband Chip, their children, and the entire family. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see her in person just yesterday during my visit to Durham, and to spend time privately with her and Chip. She was a champion for North Carolina and a fierce defender of all its citizens. She stood for women's rights and marriage equality, not because it was politically popular, but because it was right. As a United States Senator, she was a crucial partner to our administration to pass both the Recovery Act and the Affordable Care Act. Her political courage helped pull our country out of recession and made life better for millions of her fellow Americans. And she was a relentless warrior on behalf of our veterans and military families, particularly when it came to making it easier for veterans to find jobs. As a proud member of a military family herself, our servicemembers could always count on Kay Hagan to have their back. As the first female Democrat to represent her beloved state, Kay was passionate about getting more women engaged in public life. Her legacy of service will continue to live on in new leaders she inspired to follow in her steps. "

North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley released the following statement:

"We are saddened to learn about the passing of former Senator Kay Hagan. Mrs. Hagan served her state admirably, advocating for its citizens in the state legislature and the United States Senate. She remains in our thoughts, and our sincerest condolences go out to her husband Chip and her family during this difficult time."