AP
California Rep. Millender-McDonald dies

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer Sun Apr 22, 5:09 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., died early Sunday of cancer, an aide said. Millender-McDonald, who was 68, died at her home in Carson, Calif., said her chief of staff, Bandele McQueen.

McQueen could provide no details on what form of cancer Millender-McDonald had. He said she had been receiving hospice care.

The congresswoman had asked for a four- to six-week leave of absence from the House last week to deal with her illness.

She was in her seventh term representing a heavily Democratic Southern California district that includes Compton, Long Beach and parts of Los Angeles.

"California and the nation have lost a great friend and public servant," said California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres, who served with Millender-McDonald in the California state Legislature. "She was a champion for the consumer and fought injustice wherever she saw it. She always valued public service and served her state and nation with grace and honor."

Millender-McDonald is the second member of Congress to die this year of cancer. Republican Rep. Charles Norwood (news, bio, voting record) Jr. of Georgia died in February after battling cancer and lung disease.

This year Millender-McDonald became chair of the Committee on House Administration, which oversees operations of the House and federal election procedures.

The congresswoman, a native of Birmingham, Ala., worked on former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's unsuccessful 1982 gubernatorial campaign and other local races as a volunteer before getting elected to the Carson City Council in 1990.

She went on to serve in the California state Assembly, and in 1996 sought a U.S. House seat during a special election to replace Rep. Walter Tucker III, who had been convicted of taking bribes while mayor of Compton, Calif., and of cheating on his taxes.

She won the special election, and in March beat out Tucker's wife, Robin, in a primary that featured nine Democrats. She won a full House term in November 1996 and has subsequently won re-election easily.

Millender-McDonald has recently worked on issues including election reform and opposing the genocide in Darfur. She drew national attention in 1996 when she took then-

CIA director John Deutch to Watts to address the community following a newspaper report alleging that profits from domestic sales of crack-cocaine were funneled to the CIA-backed Contras in Nicaragua.

She is survived by her husband, James McDonald, Jr., and five adult children.

Under California election procedures, Gov.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has 14 days to set a date for a special election to fill the seat.

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