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Colorado House Minority Leader Hugh McKean passes away unexpectedly overnight

Hugh McKean, the 55-year-old House Minority Leader at the Colorado state legislature, was found dead Sunday morning at his home in Loveland. 

Roger Hudson, McKean's deputy of staff, confirmed that McKean had complained recently about pain on the side of his torso. McKean attributed the pain to the stress of building a new home, Hudson said. McKean was a general contractor prior to getting involved in politics.

An autopsy was performed Sunday. Mid-afternoon, the Larimer County Coroner's Office posted that McKean died of a heart attack.

Hudson said McKean was a source of guidance, hope and charity at the Capitol but also personally as well.

"He was a wonderful man. I've taken nothing but phone calls from crying people today. He was a friend to many."  

In addition to building his house, McKean was working to campaign for fellow Republicans approaching the Nov. 8 mid-term elections, Hudson said. 

McKean attended a rally in Loveland Saturday for U.S. Senate candidate Joe O'Dea.

"His boundless optimism, kindness, and empathy were on full display at our rally in Loveland," O'Dea stated in a Twitter post.

In a statement, Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown stated she and her family were "devastated" and deeply saddened by McKean's sudden death. 

"Hugh was a friend, a Republican leader, and a good man who worked for a better life for families all across Colorado," Burton Brown wrote. "Whenever I saw him or spoke to him, he had an encouraging word and was ready to lift others up. Whenever I think of Hugh McKean, I'll think of his smile and his positive outlook on life."

Burton Brown's statement concluded, "I'll miss my friend."

Democrats also responded to the news with condolences.

House Speaker Alec Garnett stated he and his wife were "shocked and heartbroken."

"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 stated. "Hugh was the very definition of a statesman - a genuinely nice guy who always wanted the best for our state and his constituents. His integrity and the deep respect with which he treated every member of the House were a model for every lawmaker he worked with."

McKean was working on his own re-election but was running unopposed in the District 51 race. Because he was unopposed, McKean will be considered a member-elect of the legislature, the Colorado Secretary of State's Office explained. A vacancy committee will meet within a month of McKean's death to begin the process of filling his House seat. That vacancy committee will be established by the Larimer County Republican Party in accordance with state statutes.  

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