GOP Rep. Elected Speaker, Dies Of COVID A Week Later

State Rep. Dick Hinch gestures as he addresses legislators in Concord, N.H., Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017.  (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Concord, NH (CBS) – Longtime New Hampshire State Rep. Richard “Dick” Hinch died suddenly Wednesday, just a week after being elected Speaker of the House.

UPDATE: AP – An autopsy determined that the cause of Hinch’s death was COVID-19. 

Seventy-one-year-old Hinch, a Republican from Merrimack, was elected to his seventh term as a state representative in November.

He had previously served as House Republican Leader (2018-2020), and House Majority Leader (2015-2018).

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New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said he was “profoundly sad” to learn of Rep. Hinch’s death:

“Speaker Hinch was a fierce defender of the New Hampshire Advantage, a close friend, and a respected public servant.

“His loss will be greatly felt by the people of this state, and I ask Granite Staters to join me in praying for his family during this incredibly difficult time.”

Sununu ordered all flags on public buildings and grounds to fly at half-staff Wednesday.

BREAKING: 

EARLIER IN MERRIMACK … 

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s House Speaker Dick Hinch died Wednesday, just a week after he was sworn in as leader of the state’s newly Republican-led Legislature. He was 71.

Hinch, of Merrimack, was starting his seventh two-year term in the state House.

He previously served as majority leader for the 2016-17 session and as minority leader when Democrats were in control the last two years.

His death was announced by his office, which did not give any details of what it called “this unexpected tragedy.”

Republicans won majorities in both chambers in November [the only state legislature to shift parties in the 2020 election].

A U.S. Navy veteran, Hinch also was active in his community, serving stints on the Merrimack Board of Selectman and town budget committee. He also was the owner and principal broker of a real estate agency.

In an emotional speech when he was elected speaker Dec. 2, Hinch urged lawmakers to view each other as “friends and colleagues,” rather than members of opposing parties, particularly during a pandemic.

The swearing in of the the 400-member House and 24-member Senate was held outdoors at the University of New Hampshire because of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than a quarter of House members, most of them Democrats, skipped the ceremony after learning the day before that several Republican lawmakers had tested positive for the virus after attending an indoor GOP caucus meeting Nov. 20 where many attendees weren’t wearing masks. Read more. 

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Disgraced, Tax-Cheating State Rep Eats Raw Oysters, Dies

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ALSO ON HEADLINE HEALTH TODAY: PA Gov. Test Positive For Covid | Dear Kamala: No More Burgers | NY’er Insists Covid Is The Best Thing Ever

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