State Senator Mario Gallegos Hospitalized In "Grave Condition" (UPDATED: He's Died)

State Senator Mario Gallegos, a member of the legislature for two decades and a thorn in the side of the Houston school district for much of that time, is gravely ill, a spokesperson says.

Gallegos, 62, is hospitalized in Houston.

"Senator Gallegos' family is at his side during this difficult time, and they have asked me to respectfully request that they be allowed their privacy, so that they may devote their undivided attention to their loved one," says spokesperson Harold Cook.

Gallegos represents State Senate District 6, which includes the east side of Harris County, a position he was first elected to in 1994 after two terms in the state House.

He's been controversial, making the Texas Monthly list of worst legislators, and disclosures about a longterm affair and battles with alcoholism.

His supporters point to his fights on behalf of the lower-income kids in his district as they try to get service from HISD.

The former Houston firefighter has been a critic of current HISD superintendent Terry Grier, blasting him at public hearings and finding fault with Grier's pet Apollo 20 project.

Update: Gallegos has died, his family announced.

Senator Mario V. Gallegos, resting comfortably at Houston's Methodist Hospital and surrounded by family members and close friends, passed away this afternoon, following complications associated with his liver transplant performed in 2007.

The Senator's family is enormously grateful for the outpouring of support, thoughts, and prayers expressed during the last few days, and respectfully requests media to continue respecting their privacy as they work through this difficult time.

Details on funeral services are pending, but the burial will be in Houston.

Some tributes:

Governor Rick Perry ordered state flags lowered to half-staff:

Whether serving as a firefighter, championing his beloved University of Houston or representing the interests of his constituents in the Texas Legislature, Sen. Gallegos led a life of serving the public. Anita and I send our condolences and prayers to his family and friends during this difficult time.

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia:

The call to public service reached Mario Gallegos early in his life. His first response was to become a first responder - with the Houston Fire Department. He left us as a longtime state senator, a position he used in his gritty, impassioned way to help his fellow residents of Harris County. And he left us too early, creating a void in public advocacy for all of the public, especially those in underserved communities. I join the chorus of condolences to his loving family as we mourn a brother, a servant, a leader and a fighter

The Democratic Caucus in Austin:

Mario was always ready. In his nearly 22 years in the Texas Legislature (nearly 18 of those in the Senate), he was firm in his beliefs and resolute in his spirit. He never failed or hesitated to attack the emergencies he saw, even when risking his own life to do it. And his first instinct, in every case, was to protect those who were too often ignored, passed over or even held down by powers greater than themselves. Mario's commitment to the least of us is one thing so many of us will treasure about his legacy.

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