For­mer Wash. GOP sen­a­tor born in Chicago

Chicago Sun-Times - - OBITUARIES - BY GENE JOHN­SON

SEAT­TLE — Slade Gor­ton, a pa­tri­cian and cere­bral politi­cian from Wash­ing­ton state who served as a U.S. Se­nate Repub­li­can leader be­fore he was ousted by the grow­ing Seat­tle-area lib­eral elec­torate in 2000, has died. He was 92.

Mr. Gor­ton died Wed­nes­day in Seat­tle, said J. Van­der Stoep, his for­mer chief of staff.

Mr. Gor­ton was the Chicago-born scion of the New Eng­land frozen fish fam­ily. His four­decade-plus po­lit­i­cal ca­reer be­gan in 1958 when he won a leg­isla­tive seat soon af­ter ar­riv­ing in Seat­tle as a freshly minted lawyer.

He went on to serve as state at­tor­ney gen­eral, a three-term U.S. sen­a­tor and mem­ber of the 9/11 Com­mis­sion — the last of which he con­sid­ered the sin­gu­lar achieve­ment of his life in pub­lic ser­vice.

Mr. Gor­ton was known for his ag­gres­sive con­sumer-pro­tec­tion bat­tles as at­tor­ney gen­eral and for go­ing to fed­eral court to end SeaWorld’s cap­ture of or­cas in Puget Sound; for his de­feat in 1980 of the state’s leg­endary Demo­cratic Sen. Warren Mag­nu­son at the height of his power; and for his work on the GOP in­ner team in the U.S. Se­nate. He twice saved pro­fes­sional base­ball in Seat­tle, su­ing Ma­jor League Base­ball in the 1970s to force it to bring a team to the city and ar­rang­ing a deal to have Nin­tendo’s owner and lo­cal in­vestors buy the Mariners to keep them in town in 1991.

Demo­cratic Sen. Patty Murray, who over­lapped with Mr. Gor­ton in the Se­nate, said they didn’t al­ways agree but still worked to­gether to strengthen clean-up ef­forts at the Han­ford Nu­clear Reser­va­tion, toughen pipe­line safety stan­dards and ex­pand health care for chil­dren.

Mr. Gor­ton, run­ner-thin to the point of gaunt, strug­gled with an image of an icy, aloof Ivy Lea­guer. He was some­times com­pared to the frozen fish sticks his grand­fa­ther once sold, and he squired un­der the nick­name “Slip­pery Slade.”

Mr. Gor­ton grad­u­ated from Dart­mouth, got a law de­gree from Columbia, and served in the Army and Air Force. He set­tled in Seat­tle so he could en­joy sail­ing and ski­ing nearby — and break into law and Repub­li­can pol­i­tics.

Slade Gor­ton

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