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Oct. 24, 2021

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Former Sen. Slade Gorton still keeps eye on politics

Republican sees chance state will pick first GOP governor since 1980s

By , Columbian Political Writer
Published:

Slade Gorton might be retired from politics, but the former U.S. Republican senator from Washington has plenty to say about the current political landscape. He shared his views Tuesday in a meeting with The Columbian’s editorial board.

For the presidency, he said, voters apparently will have a choice “between a fascist and a felon.”

Gorton put it this way: “(Donald) Trump wants to make a deal. He talks about how well he is at making deals. But Trump’s definition of a deal is, ‘I win, you lose,’ it’s a zero-sum game. But the deals the president of the United States makes aren’t like that. With a really good deal, both sides benefit.”

Hillary Clinton, Gorton said, “has no guiding philosophy except what’s good for the Clinton family.”

“My guess is that Clinton wins, but this is such a volatile situation and so different a year, and people are responding so differently, that no one can make a prediction like that with any high degree of confidence,” he said.

Gorton, now 88 years old, had a long career in state politics, including serving three terms as Washington’s attorney general. He was the last Republican to represent Washington in the U.S. Senate. He was defeated by Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell in 2000.

On state politics, Gorton said he believes this could be the year Washington elects a Republican governor. The state hasn’t elected a Republican governor since 1980, when John Spellman defeated Jim McDermott and served a single term.

Gorton called Bill Bryant, this year’s Republican candidate, “as highly qualified candidate for governor as we’ve ever had.”

He’s also rooting for former state GOP chairman Chris Vance, but said Vance probably “has no shot” to beat Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.

Over the years, Gorton has earned many monikers, according to the secretary of state’s website — “Slippery Slade,” “The Darth Vader of Northwest politics” or “Living proof that not all cold fish comes in a can.” He’s also been praised as a “wise bipartisan consensus builder” who carved out a reputation as being always courteous and thoughtful.

One thing is clear: Gorton remains a straight shooter who is not afraid to say what’s on his mind.

And although he admits to enjoying a celebratory drink when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper stopped publishing on paper, he said the country would be worse off without robust journalism.

“There’s no question about that,” Gorton said.

Columbian Political Writer
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