Richard Hinch, the newly elected speaker of New Hampshire’s Republican-led House, died of COVID-19 on Wednesday, just one week after being sworn in. On Dec. 2, Hinch attended the swearing-in ceremony for state legislators, where several of his fellow Republicans were seen maskless. Many Democrats didn’t show up to the ceremony, after an unspecified number of Republican members of the legislature tested positive for the virus following an indoor, maskless Nov. 20 caucus meeting at a ski resort. “There are no persons present who either tested positive or who were close contacts,” Hinch said in a statement to the New Hampshire Union-Leader on Dec. 2. “This meeting day is required by the state Constitution, and we were able to get it off the ground while keeping people safe.” Hinch was 71.
“Speaker Hinch was a fierce defender of the New Hampshire Advantage, a close friend, and a respected public servant,” Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said. “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.”