BY FREDA MIKLIN
Hugh McKean, GOP leader of the Colorado House of Representatives, died early Sunday morning, October 30. Kean was 55 years old. He reportedly called a friend late Saturday, October 29, complaining of chest pain. His friend went to check on him and found him deceased. The Larimer County Coroner has ruled that his death was caused by a heart attack.
Kean represented House District 51, which is comprised of Loveland and the surrounding area. He was first elected to that position in 2016 after having served on the Loveland City Council beginning in 2009. Kean was chosen as the House Minority Leader two years ago and was highly regarded by elected officials on both sides of the aisle.
Kean will be re-elected on November 8 because he was running unopposed. Sometime soon after that, his seat will be filled by a vacancy committee of the Larimer County Republican Party. Kean’s number two in GOP leadership, Rep. Tim Geitner, resigned from the House in early October, and Rep. Rod Pelton, the Minority Whip, is running for the state Senate, so the GOP leadership ranks will be rebuilt from scratch. Names mentioned as possible replacements for the Minority Leader are Rep. Mike Lynch and Rep. Colin Larson, but that is a conversation for after November 8.
Outside the general assembly, Kean was a contractor who graduated from Colorado State University. As a legislator, the state’s small businesses and water were areas that drew his attention.
Upon being informed of his passing, Governor Jared Polis issued this statement, “A family man and a true public servant, Minority Leader McKean had a knack for making everyone feel like they were the most important person in the room. Minority Leader McKean cared deeply for his constituents, always had time for a conversation or a laugh, and truly worked every day to build a better future for every Coloradan…We are sending thoughts and prayers to all of Hugh’s loved ones and take comfort knowing his legacy will be felt in Colorado for years to come.”
Kristi Burton Brown, chair of the Colorado Republican Party said, “Whenever I think of Hugh McKean, I’ll think of his smile and his positive outlook on life. One of the best memories I have of him is when I visited his office at the Capitol with my kids. In the middle of a busy legislative session, he still took the time to show my kids around his office, explain his science displays to them, and invest – even for a few minutes – in their lives. That was the Hugh McKean behind the political scene – a man who loved others and was happy to invest in them.”
House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar of Pueblo, said of Kean, “Hugh worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents and cared deeply about our state and our future. In our roles as Majority and Minority Leader, we worked closely together every day, with a shared commitment to doing the people’s work. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, his loved ones and the House Republican Caucus.”
A statement from Senate GOP Minority Leader John Cooke of Greeley included, “Hugh was a leader, a friend, and a good man. He never made politics personal, but instead always greeted everyone with a warm smile and an open hand. With his sincere nature and honest approach, he taught everyone what it means to be a statesman. His passion for his family, his community, and the state of Colorado were exemplary.”
Funeral arrangements were pending as of this writing.