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Nevada Democrats said Monday afternoon that the death of Terence Tolbert, who served as the state director of Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) presidential campaign, came as a shock, especially coming during the emotional final days of what has been a hard-fought campaign in the tossup Silver State.

Tolbert, 44, died in Las Vegas on Sunday evening of a heart attack.

Obama said he was saddened to learn of Tolbert’s death, according to a statement released by the state party.

“Terence was a strong force in this campaign, with a positive outlook that brought people together,” Obama said in the statement. “His enthusiasm, talent, and warm heart will truly be missed.”

In coordinating Obama’s campaign, Tolbert was also closely involved in planning voter education and get-out-the-vote efforts in two battleground Congressional districts in Nevada.

One Nevada Democratic operative said Tolbert’s death came as a “tough loss at a difficult time” but that the operations that he helped engineer in Nevada for the presidential and Congressional contests were well-planned and would continue despite the emotional impact that the news of his passing has had on party officials.

By Monday afternoon, the campaigns of state Sen. Dina Titus (D), who is challenging Rep. John Porter (R) in the 3rd district, and former state party chairwoman Jill Derby (D), who is challenging Rep. Dean Heller (R) in the 2nd district, released statements on Tolbert’s passing.

Tolbert’s “dedicated and passionate work has helped to create a brighter future and improve many lives across the country, he will be greatly missed,” Derby said.

Campaign spokesman Andrew Stoddard said Titus was “saddened by the news of Terence’s passing and her thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.”

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