Former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton dies at 92

Pictured left to right: Former Congressman Dave Reichert, Slade Gorton, and King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn visit Washington, D.C., to testify in favor of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area designation. Courtesy photo

Pictured left to right: Former Congressman Dave Reichert, Slade Gorton, and King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn visit Washington, D.C., to testify in favor of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area designation. Courtesy photo

Former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton died Aug. 19 in Seattle at age 92.

Gorton’s political career spanned 40 years in Washington state and Washington, D.C. He won his first legislative seat in 1958 soon after arriving in Seattle. Starting in 1968, he served three terms as the state’s attorney general, during which he broke with fellow Republicans in publicly calling for President Nixon’s resignation, according to the Associated Press.

Gorton was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980, running as a Republican against legendary Democratic Sen. Warren Magnuson. Gorton’s electoral career ended in 2000 with a razor-thin loss to Maria Cantwell, a Democratic state lawmaker from Edmonds.

Gorton has been described as a cerebral and principled leader. He demonstrated absolute command of the granular knowledge of electoral politics.

“He could drive around Washington state and off the top of his head tell you what precinct you were in and how they voted in an election,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “I think his brain really worked like a computer.”

His intellectual capacity extended into every nook of policy-making he entered.

“He won so many things on the details,” said Bill McSherry, a Boeing Co. executive who worked on Gorton’s 1994 campaign and then four-plus years on his staff.

Local leaders felt that Gorton was vested in the kitchen table issues affecting the masses, like how long it might take to get to and from work and how to ease that commute.

“His legacy and hallmark was the ability to reach consensus and reach across the aisle, something I think we are missing today on all sides,” said Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, who’s also chairman of the Mainstream Republicans of Washington. “It’s something we can learn from Slade’s life and try to recapture that.”

In a statement, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn said he will remember Gorton’s work in preserving the Mountains to Sound Greenway.

“Slade Gorton was a political giant whose magnanimity shone through until his final days” Dunn wrote. “He was one of the greatest minds to have ever served Washington State in elected office, and the significance of his life’s work will be felt long beyond his time on Earth.”

On Aug. 11, with Gorton hospitalized and unable to have visitors due to COVID, alums of Team Gorton gathered on Zoom to collectively record their personal goodbye messages.

In the course of three hours, 80 people spoke of the values and lessons imparted from the man they considered a mentor not a boss.

“Contrary to the stereotype, he was one of the ultimate people persons that I’ve ever met,” McSherry. “Every interaction with Slade was a teaching opportunity and a learning opportunity.”

This report contains information compiled from the Associated Press and the Everett Herald.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

This screenshot from Auburn Police Department bodycam footage shows an officer about to fire his weapon and kill dog on May 13, 2022.
Auburn police shoot dog, and owner claims it wasn’t justified

See videos of attack as well as bodycam footage of officer firing at dog.

File photo.
King County Council approves creation of Cannabis Safety Taskforce amid rash of dispensary robberies

The multi-agency task force will cooperate to find ways to improve safety in the cash-only industry.

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Diane Renee Erdmann and Bernard Ross Hansen. Photos courtesy of FBI
FBI arrests Auburn couple after 11-day manhunt

The couple was previously convicted for fraud and skipped sentencing on April 29.

Screenshot from Barnes and Noble website
Cover art of books that KSD Librarian Gavin Downing says have been under fire: “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts),” by Lev A.C. Rosen, “If I Was Your Girl,” by Meredith Russo, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George Matthew Johnson.
Kent middle school librarian wins intellectual freedom award

Gavin Downing refused to keep ‘silence in the library’ amid attempted book banning and censorship.

t
Kent elementary school teacher accused of using racist language toward student

River Ridge Elementary instructor placed on administrative leave by Kent School District.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.

Most Read