Top Democrat dead at 54 |

Top Democrat dead at 54

Daniel A. Dutko, a prominent Democratic National Committee fund-raiser who was injured Sunday in a bike accident near Aspen, died Tuesday morning from severe head injuries.

Dutko, 54, of Chevy Chase, Md., was in Aspen over the weekend for a Democratic fund-raiser attended by President Clinton and the First Lady. Dutko was co-chairman of Leadership 2000, the DNC’s top finance committee.

“He enriched our lives with his enthusiasm and served his country with distinction,” Clinton said of Dutko in a statement.

Dutko was riding a mountain bike early Sunday afternoon on Maroon Creek Road with friends Gary Mauro and Kelly Vidovic, both of Austin, Texas. Police say Dutko apparently lost control of the bike on a turn and may have used the front brake instead of the rear brake, police said. He was thrown from the bike and struck his head on the pavement. Dutko was not wearing a helmet, police say.

Dutko and Clinton first met while coordinating the McGovern campaign in West Texas in 1972.

Dutko held many other high-level political positions, including vice chairman of finance for Clinton-Gore in 1995; finance chairman of the 53rd inaugural ball; and vice chairman of finance for the DNC in 1996. Dutko had also been chief of staff for Sen. Donald Stewart, D-Ala., and Rep. Bob Krueger, D-Texas.

Born in Streator, Ill., Dutko joined the Air Force as a teen-ager and served for four years. He later received his bachelor’s degree from San Angelo State University in Texas and worked as a missile systems test engineer and research director. He also served as executive director of the West Texas Lighthouse for the Blind.

Dutko was a founding partner and chairman of The Dutko Group Inc., a public policy management and lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C. The firm was ranked among the top 10 in its field in a 1998 Fortune magazine survey.

He is survived by his wife, Deborah Jospin, director of AmeriCorps; and two sons, Jonathan, 6, and Matthew, 5.

Private funeral services will be in Savannah, Ga., Thursday. There will also be a memorial service at Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 2.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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