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Rep. 'Stretch' Kennedy remembered fondly


CONCORD — Friends and political leaders are remembering with fondness the "colorful" six-term state Rep. Richard "Stretch" Kennedy, who died Wednesday. He was 80.

"I was very, very fond of him," said former Republican national committee member Tom Rath. "He had an amazingly gruff exterior but he was a softie inside."

Kennedy, 80, of Hopkinton contributed to many Republican candidates and causes over the years and was an ardent Second Amendment supporter.

"Stretch was a tireless advocate for conservative principles and a fierce defender of our Second Amendment rights," state GOP Chairman Jennifer Horn said in a statement. "He was a caring individual who was beloved by Republican activists across New Hampshire because of his colorful and one-of-a-kind personality."

Rath said Kennedy was also privately a "very charitable" man.

He was known for his short and often blunt speeches on the House floor. But Rath said that, despite Kennedy's firm beliefs, he could still befriend people with different political perspectives.

"Just because you didn't agree with him didn't make you a villain," Rath said. "He was a very nice man."

Kennedy was one of 60 incumbent Republican House members swept out of office in the Democratic landslide in the Nov. 8, 2008, election, when Democrats took over both the House and Senate for the first time since the Civil War.

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