Former State Senator, Democratic Leader and Macon, GA mayoral candidate Robert Brown was found dead in his home on Friday. Wire reports coming in report an apparent suicide.
Macon Police Department spokeswoman Jami Gaudet says the 61-year-old Brown died of a single gunshot wound to the head. Police said it was an apparent suicide.
The 19-year senator from Macon was first elected in a special election in 1991 to fill an unexpired term. He was elected Democratic Leader in 2005. He left the Senate this year to launch a failed bid for Macon mayor, finishing third in the Democratic primary in July.
Getting more local, here’s the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Robert Brown called his style of talking “straight-no-chaser.” It meant he was going to tell you exactly how he felt — unvarnished – and that he would not waver from his convictions.
People admired that about the former Democratic state senator from Macon. So they often solicited his advice. They knew he would tell them what they needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear.
Those same people were stunned to learn this week that Brown had taken his own life. He fatally shot himself in the head with a pistol at his home in Macon, the Bibb County coroner’s office determined through an autopsy Friday. Brown was 61.
Brown didn’t leave a note or any other clues about why he made that decision, his friends said. But a cousin said Brown was depressed as he struggled with an abdominal-related ailment in the weeks leading up to his death. His illness significantly weakened him and caused him to walk gingerly, said his cousin, Calvin Williams.
Brown also struggled from a serious blood condition a few years ago, said David Oedel, Brown’s friend and attorney. But he also suffered greatly from losing one of the things he loved most, his role in politics. He served in the state Senate for about 20 years, rising to the rank of Democratic leader before resigning his seat to run unsuccessfully for mayor of Macon this year.
“His political life was, in a sense, also his family life. He lived for politics,” said Oedel, a law professor at Mercer University. “His retirement from the Senate and then losing the mayoral race in Macon were steps in a process of disengagement from politics that were very difficult for him.”
The Macon Telegraph offers a great mini-biography of Brown, with additional insight into his illustrious political career:
The Mercer University graduate won the District 26 state Senate seat in a 1991 special election, beating Robert Reichert and Jack Ellis in the race. Ellis and Reichert went on to become mayors of Macon, while Brown built a 20-year legacy in the Georgia Senate, ascending to Senate minority leader at one point.
In the Senate, he vowed to fight a school voucher program, opposed a major 2009 rate increase for Georgia Power and was the lone holdout on a 2009 bill to increase the local hotel tax to fund the Georgia sports and music halls of fame. Brown said at the time he didn’t care if that stance made him unpopular. Also that year, he was one of just a few legislators to vote against tax credits for businesses hiring the unemployed. He argued that businesses received too many exemptions already.
Brown worked on the legislative team that created the HOPE scholarship, and he defended working people as chairman of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
“He did a lot for the community, and he served honorably,” said Ellis, who met Brown in 1988. “We didn’t always agree, but we agreed on a whole lot more than we disagreed on.”
Ellis said Brown not only solidified himself as a major political force, but he also played prominently in others’ political campaigns.