His Mission: Don't Let 'Those Who Kill Turn Us Into Killers'

New Hampshire Democrat Rep. Renny Cushing dies at 69
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2022 2:05 PM CDT
His Dad's Murder Fueled His Crusade Against Death Penalty
New Hampshire state Rep. Robert "Renny" Cushing poses in front of the state capitol, in Concord, N.H., Oct. 24, 2013. Cushing, D-Hampton, who had been fighting stage 4 prostate cancer, died Monday, March 7, 2022, at his home, the House Democratic office announced.   (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

"Being a survivor of a homicide victim has a pain for which there aren’t any words," said Robert "Renny" Cushing during a 2019 discussion with the Death Penalty Information Center. Earlier that year, New Hampshire became the 21st state to outlaw capital punishment, after its House and Senate overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. That only happened thanks to a "relentless" 20-year campaign by Cushing, a Democrat, to build a bipartisan majority around the issue, per his obituary in the New York Times. Cushing died March 7 at the age of 69. His impressive political achievement was rooted in the murder of his father, Robert Cushing Sr., who was gunned down by a deranged off-duty police officer in 1988.

While some lobbied for the murderer to "fry," the younger Cushing found another way to honor his father’s memory. "If we let those who kill turn us into killers, then evil triumphs and we lose," he once said. As executive director of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation and cofounder of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, Cushing focused on healing, as well as ending what he viewed as a human rights violation. He served for decades in the New Hampshire House, including a nearly 10-year run that ended when he took leave from his role as Minority Leader just days before his death due to advanced prostate cancer. Colleagues remembered him as "a master parliamentarian" and "the most effective legislator in the past 25 years," per the Seacoastonline. (More obituary stories.)

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