INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Rex Early, a longtime Indiana Republican Party leader and one-time candidate for governor, has died at age 88.

Early died Friday, according to Leppert Mortuaries of Indianapolis. The cause of his death wasn’t immediately available.

Early grew up in Vincennes, Indiana, and moved to Indianapolis after serving in the Marine Corps and graduating from Indiana University. He was a successful business owner and became active in politics, first being elected to a single term in the state Legislature when he was 28.

Early remained a gregarious community and political activist, serving as Vincennes University’s board chairman and later as state Republican Party chairman in 1991-93.

He ran for governor in 1996 and finished second in the Republican primary to then-Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, who lost the general election to Democrat Frank O’Bannon. Early continued in politics, becoming state chairman of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign ahead of that year’s contested Indiana GOP primary.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb on Saturday called Early the “Indiana Republican Party’s Iron Man.”

“His wit was a weapon that could take over a room, or torpedo a campaign,” Holcomb said in a statement. “I’ll forever be proud, and grateful to have known Rex, whose loyalty and devotion to our state and nation will never be surpassed.”