Rick Ahearn - who, for decades, was a prominent figure in Republican politics - has died at the age of 74.
The Washington Post reports that Ahearn died on Tuesday, Nov. 14, in a hospital in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
The outlet - citing Ahearn's partner, Maria Mastorakos - further reports that the cause of Ahearn's passing was cardiac arrest.
The cardiac arrest is reported to have followed several surgeries that Ahearn had undergone in recent weeks.
Ahearn spent just about his entire life in politics. In a sense, he was following in the footsteps of his father, Frederick Ahearn, who had been a president of the Boston City Council and the first deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Early on in life, before he had reached the age of 10, Ahearn distributed circulars for the Boston Democrats. Then, during his teenage years, he moved on to organizing crowds for political rallies.
He went on to work for Boston Mayor John Collins, for the presidential campaign of Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and for Massachusetts Gov. Francis Sargent. This all took place before Ahearn even reached the age of 25.
A big moment in Ahearn's life came in 1972. Unhappy with the liberal politics of U.S. Sen. George McGovern - who became the Democratic Party's presidential nominee - Ahearn switched over to the Republican Party.
Ahearn would go on to work for the presidential campaign of Richard Nixon and, subsequently, for every Republican president or presidential nominee - either as a member of their campaign staff or their White House staff or both - through former President Donald Trump's 2020 reelection campaign.
Ahearn, as suggested, was a major figure in Republican politics, in general. But, he is particularly remembered for his association with former President Ronald Reagan.
The Post reports:
Mr. Ahearn was perhaps best known as an aide to Reagan, whom he served beginning in the 1980 campaign that propelled the former California governor and Hollywood actor to office. “Rick Ahearn doesn’t exactly tuck the Reagans into bed at night,” a reporter for the Boston Globe observed in 1980. “But he is one of the first people they see in the morning and the last they see at night.”
Ahearn was there in March 1981 during the attempted assassination of Reagan.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute has released a statement following the news of Ahearn's passing.
In this statement, Fred Ryan, the board's chairman, wrote:
President and Mrs. Reagan adored Rick for his wit and for his wisdom in a decades-long friendship that began early in the 1980 Presidential campaign. They could always count on Rick to make the right strategic decision when the stakes were high – or to diffuse a tense situation with his unique Irish wit.