U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings thought about running for the Senate in 2016 when fellow Democrat Barbara Mikulski decided to retire. Most politicians would jump at the chance for higher office. But Cummings, who would have had a good chance of winning the open seat, was not like most politicians. He decided that Baltimore still needed him. So he set ambition aside.

Putting the interests of the people first was the hallmark of this fine man. A 23-year veteran of the House and a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Cummings died early Thursday morning in a hospice center in Baltimore from what his office said were “complications concerning long-standing health challenges.” He was 68, and his death hit hard. “An irreplaceable void,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. “People throughout the world have lost a powerful voice and one of the strongest and most gifted crusaders for social justice,” said Baltimore Mayor Bernard Young, a Democrat.

Praise and condolences also came from Republicans who had sparred politically with Cummings but held him in genuine and high regard. “One of the most powerful, beautiful & compelling voices in American politics,” wrote former congressman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who famously battled with Cummings when he preceded him as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Most heartfelt were the remembrances of Baltimore residents. They recalled how as a state representative he led the fight to remove alcohol and tobacco billboards, and how he stood on street corners during anti-drug vigils, fearlessly took to the streets during the city’s riots to urge calm and continued to make his home in the inner city. The son of a sharecropper who battled for civil rights and broke barriers, Cummings couldn’t countenance those who stood by in the face of wrong.

As long as he had breath, Cummings spoke out. He will be sorely missed.