Terence Tolbert, the state director in Nevada for senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and an aide to New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, died on Sunday in North Las Vegas. He was 44.
The cause was a heart attack, mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
A friend, Basil Smikle, said Tolbert was stricken while driving alone on Sunday night near the Obama campaign offices in North Las Vegas.
Since 2006 Tolbert had been the New York City education department's chief lobbyist in Washington.
He had been poised to take a leading role in Bloomberg's coming fight to persuade New York lawmakers to re-authorise the law giving the mayor control of the city's public schools.
Tolbert had been on leave since August working for the Obama campaign.
In 2003-04 he was the New York state director for John Edwards' presidential campaign, and in 2004 he was the Nevada state director of America Coming Together, a Democratic advocacy group.
Tolbert also worked on Bloomberg's re-election effort in 2005, serving as a liaison to the city's patchwork of ethnic, religious and cultural groups, and for eight years was chief of staff to assemblyman Keith Wright, a Harlem Democrat.
Tolbert, a graduate of Hunter College, was born and raised in Harlem, where he lived with his wife Freida Foster-Tolbert.
In addition to his wife he is survived by his mother Carolyn. -New York Times