New Jerseyans are mourning the death of U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who passed away late last night after a battle with brain cancer.
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-Hoboken):
“I consider it an honor and a privilege to have served in the Senate side-by-side with Senator Kennedy. To have collaborated closely with him at the negotiating table and in Senate debate on legislation to protect our nation’s workers and reform our immigration system was an inspiring experience for a new Senator. I will always cherish that work and will never forget what I learned from joining with Senator Kennedy to move our nation forward. I considered him not only a colleague, but a true friend in the Senate.
“Today, millions of our nation’s Latinos are mourning the loss of one of their greatest champions. Senator Kennedy will always have a place of honor in the Latino community as someone who stood up and fought for the rights of immigrants and the issues that affected the community at a time when few others would. From farm worker legislation to voting rights and civil rights that impacted the Latino community, we saw the strength of Senator Kennedy’s beliefs. For this, Latinos across the country will always remember him.
“As millions of Americans mourn Senator Kennedy’s passing, may his life’s work be an inspiration. May we always seek to form a more perfect union, as he did. My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Kennedy’s beloved wife Vicki, his children and the entire Kennedy family. The Lion of the Senate will be deeply missed.”
Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden):
“America has lost a legendary advocate for equal opportunity for everyone.
“Sen. Kennedy was a tireless fighter for those less fortunate, whether it was voting and civil rights, fair housing, livable wages or quality health care for everyone. He relentlessly protected the most vulnerable, and will be remembered as one of the most effective legislators this nation has seen. His work was an inspiration to all and left for the better an undeniable stamp on America for generations to come.
“Sen. Kennedy did not represent New Jersey, but he shared our values of justice for everyone. He visited our state many times, and I had the pleasure of meeting with him on numerous occasions. I was always touched by his generosity, passion and strength, and I smile when I think about him. He was an amazing man.
“On behalf of the General Assembly, I offer my condolences to his family at this difficult time.
“His passing is an immeasurable loss, but as Sen. Kennedy once reminded us, ‘the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.'”
Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie:
“Today is a sad day. We’ve lost a legendary public servant who fought hard and nobly for the causes in which he believed. Whether you agreed or disagreed with his politics, you cannot deny his impact on the lives of so many Americans.”
Gov. Jon Corzine:
“Like all New Jerseyans and Americans, I am deeply saddened by the passing of Senator Kennedy. On behalf of all of New Jersey I extend condolences to his wife, Vickie, and family. I had the honor of serving with Senator Kennedy. I was mentored and inspired by his leadership and friendship. He was an extraordinary senator for 47 years, leaving an unmatched legacy of contributions, especially on healthcare, to all Americans. He will be truly missed, but his dreams will never die. “While we might be tempted to regret that Senator Kennedy did not live to see universal health care – the ‘cause of my life’ he called it – we should all rejoice in all of the great, enormous good that Senator Kennedy accomplished while he was here with us, and honor his memory by redoubling our commitment to making that cause a reality now, this year, in 2009.”
U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights):
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Senator Kennedy and I send my thoughts and prayers to the entire Kennedy family during this time of sorrow. Senator Kennedy’s immense passion to protect the rights of underprivileged Americans will be remembered long past his days. His vision and lifetime of service has opened the doors of opportunity for all Americans. I feel extremely privileged to have worked with Sen. Kennedy on pension, education and health care issues and I am honored to have had the opportunity to learn from such a respected patriot.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson):
“America grieves for one of its great sentinels of freedom, justice and the well-being of all citizens,” said Pascrell, who supported Kennedy on the campaign trail through Paterson in the 1980 presidential race. “Ted Kennedy was a tough Irishman who kept his word, which is so distinct in the reality-TV era. A significant senator and a significant human being, Ted Kennedy carried the legacy of his family with all of its successes, disappointments, influence and pain. God bless the Kennedy family.”
“Senator Kennedy is remembered for so many incredible accomplishments that his fierce advocacy for brain injury survivors is sometimes overlooked. The senator’s victories to advance rights for women, minorities, children, seniors and workers are legendary. It is not often enough that we hear how affectively Senator Kennedy fought for the millions of Americans who suffer from traumatic brain injury, an infliction health experts call the ‘silent epidemic.’ Brain injury survivors were not properly diagnosed, treated, or documented before Senator Kennedy passed the TBI Act in 1996. Senator Kennedy was the first to become their champion. He became their voice in Washington, and what a voice they have.
“When I created the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force in the later 1990s, I began working closely with Senator Kennedy to forge a commitment from the federal government to the millions of TBI survivors who suffer in silence. It is a commitment that we have strengthened over time and now serves as a foundation for the thousands of brain injured troops returning home the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I count Senator Kennedy’s work on behalf of the brain injured among his greatest achievements.”
U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York):
“I am saddened to hear about the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. The American people have lost a great leader and the Kennedy family has lost a beloved patriarch. His leadership on civil rights, health care and education were among his top priorities. He was a champion for all people and believed that everyone should have the chance to realize their potential to the fullest. The Senator’s fight against discrimination and consideration for the under represented will never be forgotten.”
U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park):
“Today is a sad day in America and all around the world. In addition to being a valued friend, Senator Kennedy was a mentor and one of the national leaders who inspired me to enter public life.
“This distinguished figure in American history served for decades as a tireless advocate for all those who most needed a voice in Congress and sought assurance that government was on their side — from working families to minorities, from children to the sick. He brought all human emotion to his tasks in order to get things done, combining warmth, humor, and determination. He was persistent and tenacious, yet he always earned respect and a handshake from even his most ardent opponents.
“There is no question that Senator Kennedy’s passion and accomplishments have left us with a better world and a better America. In memory of his legacy, we must recommit ourselves to working together to move America forward. He will be sorely missed but his work will carry on.
“I send my love and deepest condolences to all members of the Kennedy family.
Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union), the Democratic State Chairman:
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Edward Kennedy and send my condolences and prayers to his family, loved ones and many admirers from all over the world.
“Edward Kennedy was a tireless advocate for health care and civil rights and dedicated his life to working to improve the quality of life for every American.
“We will continue to carry his torch as we advance his lifelong dream of making universal health care a reality for every American.
“Senator Kennedy’s decades of dedication to public service should serve as a shining example for all people.
“Our country truly lost a great American today but Edward Kennedy’s legacy will live on for generations to come.”
Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing):
“Today is a sad day, as America has lost a giant who never forgot that public service meant fighting for those who are less fortunate.
“The loss of Sen. Kennedy is heartrending, but we must always remember his relentless efforts to protect children, the poor, the disabled and the sick and ensure equal rights for all.
“He was among the most influential leaders of our time, and with his strength, iron will and relentless advocacy for what’s right, his legacy of fighting for social change will always serve as an example to everyone.
“I offer my condolences to his family and friends. As we continue on, I hope we all honor what Sen. Kennedy believed in most – giving voice to those least able to have their voice heard.”
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch):
“The death of Senator Kennedy has silenced a voice of progress that spoke to the best aspirations of America and inspired generations of Americans to realize their opportunities – but his words, his leadership and his accomplishments will live on, helping our country live up to its ideals.
“Senator Kennedy was often a lone voice or the first voice on causes that served the needs of the less fortunate. He was a man of courage who never forgot the principles that served as the country’s foundation and he wouldn’t let others forget as well.
“I am grateful for the opportunity of working with Senator Kennedy on issues of importance, including health care reform, the SCHIP program for children and their families and the CLASS Act, which gives the disabled the opportunity to function independently. I will miss working with him but I will try to live up to the example he set by continuing to work on these causes.
“We have lost a leader on health care, but we can honor his legacy by following through on health reform and realizing its completion. We have lost the man deservedly called the ‘Last Lion,’ but we have all gained so much from his life.”