Hugh McKean, Colorado’s House Minority Leader, dead at 55

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Republican House Minority Leader Hugh McKean at a GOP campaign event Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Denver.

Updated Oct. 31, 2022 at 7:24 a.m.

Hugh McKean, Colorado’s Republican House Minority Leader, died from a heart attack Sunday morning at the age of 55.

The Republican from Larimer County leaves behind two children, Aiden and Hanna McKean, and his partner, Amy Parks. 

Fellow Republicans remembered McKean as a passionate public leader who dedicated his life to Colorado. McKean first took public office in 2009, when he was elected to the Loveland City Council. 

“One of the best memories I have of him is when I visited his office at the Capitol with my kids,” Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown said in a statement. “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.”

Democratic House Speaker Alec Garnett said in a statement he would miss the “kindness” and “joy” McKean brought to the statehouse everyday. 

“Hugh was the very definition of a statesman — a genuinely nice guy who always wanted the best for our state and his constituents,” Garnett said. “His integrity and the deep respect with which he treated every member of the House were a model for every lawmaker he worked with. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Democratic Caucus are with Leader McKean’s family and loved ones.”

House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar remembered McKean as a tireless advocate for his constituents in District 51. “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.”

In a statement, Gov. Jared Polis said he was "devastated" by the news. “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," he said. "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.”

McKean’s cause of death was confirmed late Sunday night by the Larimer County Coroner. State Republicans described his passing as “sudden and tragic.” A public funeral is being planned and details will be released when finalized.

McKean was first elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2016. He was elected state House minority leader in November 2020. Before his death, McKean was running for reelection to represent District 51.