Former New Hampshire Gov. Stephen Merrill, who served two terms in office during the 1990s, died early Saturday morning, according to statements by fellow Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and the Merrill family. He was 74.
“With regret, we share the news with the State of New Hampshire, that former Attorney General and Governor Stephen Merrill passed away peacefully at his home with his family today,” the Merrill family said in a statement released by Sununu’s office.
His cause of death was not released.
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Merrill was elected in 1992 and was reelected in 1994 after serving as New Hampshire attorney general. Merrill had earlier served as legal counsel and chief of staff to former Republican Gov. John Sununu.
He was known for his humor as well as his conservative stances.
As governor Merrill opposed broad-based taxes while also championing smaller government and fewer regulations. He came up with the phrase, “New Hampshire Advantage,” which is still used by state Republican leaders to describe their governing philosophy.
Sununu directed all flags on public buildings and grounds in New Hampshire to fly at half-staff.
“Governor Steve Merrill was a dear friend who had an incredibly positive impact on the citizens of our state. He will be missed by everyone who knew him,” Sununu said in a written statement.
The family said additional information about remembrance services will be forthcoming and asked for privacy.