Former Colorado state Rep. Mike McLachlan dies at 75

Former state Rep. Mike McLachlan of Durango died Wednesday after an illness. He was 75.

The attorney, married to current Democratic Rep. Barbara McLachlan, served as a state representative for one term from 2013-2014 before losing in a tight race to Republican opponent Rep. J. Paul Brown, whom Mike McLachlan had unseated in the election prior.

McLachlan is survived by his wife and two children, Brian and Kate.

McLachlan was appointed as solicitor general in 1999 and is known for his win before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 in Hill v. Colorado — in which he argued a person’s free speech rights were not violated by a state law that didn’t allow for protests or literature distribution within 8 feet of someone going into a health care facility like an abortion clinic.

“Mike was the smartest, funniest, kindest and most loving person I will ever know,” Rep. Barbara McLachlan said in a statement. “He spent his life serving, helping and advocating, and has been a true role model for me, our family and our community. I will miss him dearly.”

McLachlan served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He also had been president of the Durango Rotary Club, a member of the Southern Ute Tribe-State of Colorado Environmental Control Commission, chairman of the Judicial Performance Commission for the Sixth Judicial District and chairman of the Supreme Court Grievance Committee, according to a release from Colorado House Democrats.

“(Mike McLachlan) stood up for his community and his fellow Coloradans at every turn, going as far as the Supreme Court of the United States to speak up for what he knew was right,” House Speaker Alec Garnett said in a statement. “My heart and my thoughts are with my dear friend and colleague Barbara, who has been working tirelessly for over a year to both care for Mike and serve her district, and their children Kate and Brian.”

McLachlan’s celebration of life will take place at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Powerhouse Museum in Durango.

Gov. Jared Polis has ordered that flags on public buildings be lowered at half-staff during McLachlan’s memorial service.

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