Former state Sen. David Bradley dies at 69; Ducey orders flags at half-staff on Sunday

Former state Sen. David Bradley, whose public service career spanned more than two decades and included time in the Navy and Arizona Legislature, died on Saturday, officials announced. He was 69.

"We're deeply saddened by Dave's passing. We've been really uplifted today by the outpouring of tributes that we're reading online, throughout Arizona," Debra D'Amore, Bradley's wife, told The Arizona Republic.

Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags at all state buildings to be lowered to half-staff on Sunday in memory of Bradley, whom he said had an "unwavering dedication to serving the people of Arizona."

"He was a true statesman who made a positive impact on the lives of many Arizonans across our state," Ducey said.

"I actually received a really heartfelt personal phone call this morning from the governor and he referred to Dave as a throwback in terms of human kindness and decency," D'Amore said. "His calling for flags at half-staff tomorrow is really appreciated by all of us."

Ducey noted Bradley's professional accomplishments, which also included working as a state social worker and Senate minority leader.

In the latter role, which he held for two years, Ducey said Bradley "worked across the aisle to advance important priorities" and made a "lasting impact on our state" through his dedication to children in foster care, addressing the opioid epidemic and passing the Drought Contingency Plan.

State Rep. Domingo DeGrazia, who serves as House Democratic Minority Whip, said on Saturday that Bradley would be remembered for the "kindness and dignity" with which he treated those around him.

"With a big heart and humble demeanor, he would always lift up the accomplishments of his colleagues without mentioning his own," DeGrazia said in a statement.

He went on to say that Bradley "worked tirelessly" to serve children and families throughout state budget negotiations.

"We will miss him most in difficult political times, because in tough situations he always had a joke and a kind smile that put people at ease and helped discussions move forward," DeGrazia said.

Sen. Rick Gray called Bradley a “genuine, caring person” who wanted to use his position to help others.

Voters moved Gray from the House to the Senate in 2018, and he got to know Bradley well while they both served on the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee.

“He was a mild-mannered person, but if you look at some of the testimony in the health committee in 2018, you can see when he was talking about his passion — when he was talking about people — he could get fired up.”

Sen. David Bradley speaks about the Equal Rights Amendment, March 13, 2019, on the floor of the Senate at the Arizona Capitol.
Sen. David Bradley speaks about the Equal Rights Amendment, March 13, 2019, on the floor of the Senate at the Arizona Capitol.

They began working closely together in 2019 as leaders of their respective caucuses, and Gray respected Bradley’s focus on avoiding clashes to help develop “good policy” with Republican colleagues.

“Our politics didn’t always line up, but we were both looking at doing what was best for the people as we saw it,” he said.

After winning her seat in 2018, Sen. Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix, the current Senate Democratic leader, competed against Bradley for the leadership position. She lost but immediately felt at ease in working with him, she said.

“You knew he was always trying to lead you in the right direction,” Rios said. “He always had an open door and would make the rounds to talk to members (and) meet executive assistants.”

The longtime executive for child welfare and mental health agencies was “a social worker to the core,” she said. “You saw the concern for children, and for sexual abuse victims.”

Bradley was born in Washington in November 1952, according to the Arizona State Legislature's website.

He served as vice-chair of the Pima County Democratic Party from 1993 to 1994, president of Democrats of Greater Tucson from 1997 to 1999 and chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party in 2002, according to the state Legislature.

From 2003 to 2011, he served as a state representative for District 28 before joining the state Senate in 2013.

Bradley is survived by his wife as well as four children and six grandchildren.

Further details on Bradley's death were not immediately available.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Former AZ Sen. David Bradley dies at 69; Ducey orders flags at half-staff