High Ranking GOP Member Suddenly Dies

High Ranking GOP Member Suddenly Dies

The COVID-19 death of a prominent member of the GOP was announced on Thursday following an autopsy. Republican Representative and Speaker of the House for New Hampshire Dick Hinch was 71 years old at the time of his passing.

Hinch, who was elected as Speaker just one week ago, was confirmed to have died from the coronavirus. This news comes just one month before the New Hampshire state legislature, which is the largest in the U.S., was expected to meet for its annual session.

The cause of death was announced by the state’s attorney general, Gordon MacDonald, after an autopsy was conducted by New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner Jennie Duval.

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Hinch was excited to lead his party in the House. In the recent election, Republicans had gained control of both the House and Senate from Democrats. The GOP leader had been formally elected as speaker on December 2 during an outdoor session held at the University of New Hampshire due to COVID concerns, because earlier that week, multiple Republican members of the House had tested positive for the coronavirus after an indoor caucus meeting.

An employee from his office has tested positive since then, and anyone who was in contact with the staffer or Hinch has been quarantined.

“All staff identified as possible close contacts have been notified and asked to quarantine out of an abundance of caution,” the office said in a statement at the time.

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After the confirmation of Hinch’s cause of death, acting Speaker Sherman Packard and Senate President Chuck Morse announced that they are planning to consult with state health officials and other authorities about “any additional, specific steps we should take, beyond our on-going COVID-19 protocols and contact tracing, to ensure the continued protection of our legislators and staff.”

“As legislative leaders, we are committed to protecting the health and safety of our fellow legislators and staff members who work at the statehouse in Concord. It is our responsibility to ensure COVID-19 incident notification and transparency. These are responsibilities that we take extremely seriously,” Packard and Morse said in a joint statement.

Prior to being elected House Speaker, Hinch had served as House Majority Leader from 2015, 2018. In his speech after being named speaker, Hinch spoke about working together, regardless of party affiliation.

“I ask each of you to not look at each other as Republicans and Democrats, but as friends and colleagues, working towards the same goal. Our methods to get there and what we envision as a better New Hampshire may be different, but at the end of the day, please remember that we have a responsibility to respect each other and understand each other, that we are all here to make a positive difference in our communities and our state,” Hinch said.

Packard, who had been appointed as Hinch’s deputy, will continue in his role as acting speaker until the GOP-led House is able to vote to appoint Hinch’s successor.

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