Richard Hanna, Republican Who Opposed Trump, Dies at 69


Former Representative Richard L. Hanna, a moderate Republican from upstate New York who was so disenchanted with Donald J. Trump in 2016 that he broke with his party and endorsed the Democrat Hillary Clinton for president, died on Sunday at a hospital near Utica, N.Y. He was 69.

His family said in a statement that the cause was cancer.

Mr. Hanna, who had built a successful construction business before his election to Congress in 2010, represented a sprawling district that stretched from Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania border.

A quiet backbencher with an independent streak, he stood out for his moderate views at a time when the Republican Party had lurched to the right. He supported abortion rights, same-sex marriage and the Equal Rights Amendment. He opposed cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

After just three terms in Congress, he announced in December 2015 that he planned to retire, saying he wanted to spend more time with his wife and young children.

“When all is said and done, if you haven’t raised your family well, you haven’t accomplished anything in life,” he said at the time. “I’ve got good kids and a great wife, and they simply don’t want me to do this anymore.”

His wife, Kim; a son, Emerson; and a daughter, Grace, survive him. He lived in the Oneida County hamlet of Barneveld, about 14 miles north of Utica.

In March 2016, a few months after he announced that he would not seek re-election, Mr. Hanna said that if Mr. Trump became his party’s presidential nominee, he would not support him. “I want someone to be president that my children can look up to,” he told

That August, after Mr. Trump had indeed become the nominee, Mr. Hanna further laid out his critique in an opinion column on, saying Mr. Trump was “unfit to serve our party and cannot lead this country.”

“I do not expect perfection, but I do require more than the embodiment of at least a short list of the seven deadly sins,” he said.

Mr. Hanna was especially infuriated that Mr. Trump had attacked Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Muslim parents of a soldier who was killed in Iraq.

“I was stunned by the callousness of his comments,” Mr. Hanna said. “I think Trump is a national embarrassment. Is he really the guy you want to have the nuclear codes?”

Richard Louis Hanna was born in Utica on Jan. 25, 1951. He worked construction jobs to put himself through Reed College in Portland, Ore., from which he graduated in 1976 with a degree in economics. After his father died, he helped care for his mother and sisters.

He went on to start his own company, Hanna Construction, which specialized in excavation, taking on projects throughout New York. He became a millionaire before he ran for Congress.

In his first race, in 2010, he said he was running because he thought he could add “some balance and thought and a little bit more deliberate action and less demagoguery.”

He said he had been discouraged watching President George W. Bush “with the wild spending and the two wars and just this hard-right social agenda.”

He defeated Representative Michael Arcuri, a Democrat from Utica, in a rematch of their 2008 race, which Mr. Arcuri had won.

In Congress, he sought to bridge the divide between the parties. He was most proud of his efforts in 2012 to renew the Violence Against Women Act.

Still, he lamented what his party had become.

“I never left the Republican Party that I originally joined,” he told in 2016. “I can only say that they’ve left me. It’s really gone to the far extremes on social issues. They’ve become judgmental and sanctimonious and authoritarian on their approach to people.”

When he endorsed Mrs. Clinton, he said that he did not agree with her on many issues and that she had a lot of baggage.

“But she stands and has stood for causes bigger than herself for a lifetime,” he said. “That matters.”

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