George Burke Death Stuns Connolly, Va. Democrats

Connolly knew Burke for more than three decades. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Connolly knew Burke for more than three decades. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted November 2, 2015 at 3:26pm

Congressional spokesman George A. Burke died on Oct. 30 after battling cancer, a departure that left his boss, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly nearly at a loss for words.  

“For more than 30 years I have been fortunate to call George my close friend. We will all miss his stories, his unwavering optimistic approach to life, and his love for his friends and family,” the Virginia Democrat said in a statement. “His loss will leave a great void in all our lives and I will miss him dearly.” According to Legistorm, Burke, a New York native, first joined the legislative branch in 1979, cutting his teeth by working as press secretary for New Hampshire Democrat Norman D’Amours for five years. He went on to handle messaging for former Rep. James Scheuer, D-N.Y., eventually moving on to give voice to the International Association of Fire Fighters.  

Burke returned to the Capitol in 2009 when Connolly was elected to Congress.  

“A man of many talents, he was an accomplished journalist, photographer, congressional staffer, senior labor leader with the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Chair of the 11th Congressional District Democratic Committee, and my trusted confidant and Communications Director,” Connolly shared in his official statement.  

Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay billed Burke’s passing as a huge blow to the party.  

“He was really a giant in political circles. There’s not a democrat in Northern Virginia that didn’t know George Burke and that didn’t have tremendous respect for him even when they disagreed with him,” McKay said of his friend.  

Whether sharing his views on local politics via “Inside Scoop Virginia” or moderating campaign events for up-and-coming candidates, McKay told CQ Roll Call Burke was always working on something interesting.  

“He was a tremendous Northern Virginia political strategist … [and] an all-around good guy who I’m going to miss a ton,” McKay said.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement “George was a first class public servant and a one-of-a-kind personality who helped make Northern Virginia the great place to live, work and raise a family that it is today. We will miss George’s friendship and his sharp wit, but his legacy will certainly live on in the many contributions he made to the lives of his fellow Virginians and Americans.”

And Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said “George Burke embodied everything it means to be a Virginia Democrat. A passionate fighter for working families, his life’s work was serving the people, whether as a journalist, firefighter, Congressional aide or Democratic leader. His brilliant mind was always at work for our Commonwealth.”

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