Rep. Hugh McKean, the leader of the Republican caucus in the Colorado House, died Sunday at his Loveland home, according to several statements from the party. He was 55.
McKean, who was first elected in 2016 and was chosen to lead the caucus in 2020, was found at his home in Loveland on Sunday morning, officials said. In a statement, the Colorado House Republicans described his death as sudden.
Roger Hudson, McKean’s deputy of staff, told Pointypress that McKean had been complaining of pain on the left side of his body but had chalked it up to an injury related to work on the new home McKean was building. The pain had worsened overnight, Hudson said, and McKean had called his longtime partner.
Hudson said an autopsy was being conducted late Sunday morning. McKean had been at a campaign rally for Republican Senate hopeful Joe O’Dea on Saturday. In addition to his partner, McKean is survived by his two adult children.
“Hugh was fiercely passionate about two things in his extraordinary life: serving the great state of Colorado and spending time with his family, whom he adored,” the party said in its statement.
In a separate statement, Kristi Burton Brown, the chairwoman of the Colorado Republican Party, mourned McKean’s passing and remembered the time he took to meet and interact with her children.
“Whenever I saw him or spoke to him, he had an encouraging word and was ready to lift others up,” Burton Brown said. “Whenever I think of Hugh McKean, I’ll think of his smile and his positive outlook on life.”
Republican Rep. Colin Larson said he was “devastated” by McKean’s passing.
“My thoughts right now are making sure his children and partner have everything they need to get through this,” he told The Post in a text message.
McKean was first elected to the Loveland City Council in 2009; seven years later, he was elected to represent state House District 51. He was tasked in 2020 with leading an at times fractious Republican caucus, against a strong House majority that Democrats had built. It was often not an easy task, but McKean told The Post in September that he was looking forward to a more cohesive caucus come the next legislative session in January.
Hudson, the deputy chief of staff, told The Post that Rep. Rod Pelton, a Cheyenne Wells Republican and the House’s minority whip, will lead the caucus until its members can gather. Pelton is also currently running for a state Senate seat. A vacancy committee will be convened to select McKean’s replacement for House District 51, Hudson said.
McKean’s Democratic counterparts also mourned his passing Sunday. House Speaker Alec Garnett, a Denver Democrat, said he was “shocked and heartbroken” by McKean’s death. He praised his integrity and deep respect.
“We will miss his kindness, the joy that he brought to the Capitol every day, and the care that he showed every person he ever met,’ Garnett wrote in a statement. “Hugh was the very definition of a statesman — a genuinely nice guy who always wanted the best for our state and his constituents.”