John Spellman, the former King County executive who became Washington s most recent Republican governor, is the subject of a biography produced by a prolific history-based program of the Office of Secretary of State. Spellman was born in 1926 in Seattle and attended Seattle Preparatory School until leaving midway through his senior year to enroll in the Merchant Marine program during World War II. After a stint in the Navy, Spellman graduated from Seattle University as valedictorian in 1949 and then graduated from Georgetown Law School in 1952. Elected a King County commissioner in 1966, Spellman defeated former Governor Al Rosellini for King County executive in 1969, becoming the first county executive in the state. As King County s first executive, Spellman led its difficult transformation to a modern government. His accomplishments include helping secure the construction of the Kingdome, leading to the arrival of the Seahawks and Mariners, which helped make Seattle a big-league city. In 1980, Spellman became governor after defeating Democrat challenger Jim McDermott. Spellman lost his re-election bid to Gardner in 1984. Jerry Grinstein, a former top aide to the late U.S. Senator Warren Magnuson, a longtime Spellman ally, views the progressive Seattle Republican as our states most underrated public official. Former Governor Chris Gregoire, who headed the state Department of Ecology earlier in her career, says Spellman s 1982 decision to reject the Northern Tier Pipeline Company s application to install an oil pipeline with the capacity of a million barrels a day beneath Puget Sound was a profile in courage in the face of a full-court press by the Reagan administration. When the economy went south during Gregoires second term, Spellman was among the first to offer bipartisan support for balancing taxes and cuts and protecting school funding and social services.
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John C. Hughes joined the Office of the Secretary of State as chief oral historian in 2008 after a 42-year career in journalism, retiring as editor and publisher of The Daily World in Aberdeen, Washington. He first met Slade Gorton as a young reporter covering the Washington State Legislature in 1966. Hughes is a trustee of the Washington State Historical Society and the author of five other books: On the Harbor, From Black Friday to Nirvana with Ryan Teague Beckwith; Booth Who? a biography of Booth Gardner; Nancy Evans, First-rate First Lady; Lillian Walker, Washington State Civil Rights Pioneer, The Inimitable Adele Ferguson and Across the Aisle: Sid Snyder's Remarkable Career in Groceries and Government.Review:
Washington once had Republican governors: John Spellman was the most recent. Family, friends and old aides gathered Friday night at the Rainier Club to lift cups to publication of a lucid, readable new Spellman biography by John Hughes, part of the Washington State Heritage Center Legacy Project. Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, leader of a coalition of Republicans and dissident Democrats that runs the Legislature s upper chamber, was on hand. After a series of graceful reminiscences, guests lined up to get books autographed by Spellman and Hughes. It was a fun line to be in. Stories were told. There was ribbing and much laughter. The hearts of 1980 s-era Spellman administration tough guys have softened with time. Nobody minded the wait. One person, apparently, did mind. Sen. Tom strolled up to the front of the line, interposed himself, exchanged pleasantries with Spellman and Hughes, and had his book autographed. The line crashing by Tom did not go unnoticed, and elicited a bit of amusement from fellow guests. If he were a better politician, he would have worked the line, joked one esteemed Seattle editor/writer on the drive home. Of course, it had been a busy day for the ruling Senate coalition headed by Tom. One Senate committee had just shot down a bevy of proposed gun safety bills. On a party-line vote, another passed out legislation that would roll back a new Seattle ordinance which allows employees to earn time off for sickness or care of a sick kid. Still, the editor s point was well taken. Tom could have learned something, and might still if he curls up with his autographed copy of John Spellman: Politics Never Broke His Heart. Some suggested lessons: Spellman governed, even at high political cost. He raised taxes in the midst of a recession, to maintain state services and particularly to maintain Washington s first-rate public colleges. The current Legislature, and its immediate predecessors, have decimated support for higher ed and thrown huge tuition burdens on students. Spellman did not equate destruction of the environment with economic growth. He defied legislative Republicans, and blocked a plan to build huge offshore oil drilling platforms at Cherry Point near Bellingham. It would have filled in and wrecked the state s finest herring spawning ground. Spellman had a sense of social justice, supporting minority hiring and giving business to minority contractors, at a time when the construction industry and its unions were 99 percent white and wanted to keep it that way. Spellman did not sacrifice his principles to the political opportunity of the moment. As a result, he elicited a tribal loyalty among those who worked for him. The Rainier Club gathering ended festivities by singing When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. The Irish are, after all, a tribe. --Joel Connelly, Seattle PI.com
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Book Description Washington State Legacy Project, 2013. Hardcover. Book Condition: Brand New. first edition. 409 pages. 9.10x6.10x1.40 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 1889320277