George Nethercutt

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George Nethercutt
Georgenethercutt.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by Tom Foley
Succeeded by Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Personal details
Born George R. Nethercutt, Jr.
(1944-10-07) October 7, 1944 (age 70)
Spokane, Washington
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Beth Socha
Religion Presbyterian

George R. Nethercutt, Jr. (born October 7, 1944) is an American politician, author, consultant, columnist and commentator. Nethercutt is the founder and chairman of The George Nethercutt Foundation. He was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 2005, representing Washington's 5th congressional district.

Born in Spokane, Washington, and a graduate of North Central High School, Nethercutt earned a B.A. in English from Washington State University and a law degree from Gonzaga University. He worked as a clerk for Alaskan federal Judge Raymond Plummer. Nethercutt then served as staff counsel and later chief of staff to Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) before returning to private practice in Washington State. Specializing in estate and adoption law, he also co-founded the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, a private, not-for-profit institution to help prevent child abuse.

Congressional career[edit]

Nethercutt was first elected to Congress in 1994 in a dramatic election in which he unseated the Speaker of the House, Tom Foley. It was the first time he'd run for office. The seat had been turning more conservative since the early 1980s, but Foley had held on mainly by running up his totals in Democratic-leaning Spokane. In the 1994 election, however, Nethercutt ran up his totals in the more rural areas of the district while holding Foley to a margin of only 9,000 votes in Spokane and 3,000 in Spokane County, which allowed him to prevail by 4,000 votes. This marked the first time a sitting Speaker of the House was unseated since 1862, and was part of a massive national Republican landslide that saw the GOP take control of the House for the first time in 40 years. In Congress, he sat on the House Appropriations Committee and the House Science Committee. Like most Republicans elected in the 1994 wave, he had a strongly conservative voting record.

Nethercutt's campaign against Foley, a 30-year incumbent, included significant attention to Foley's opposition to term limits. In 1992, Washington state voters had approved a ballot measure limiting the terms of Washington officials, including federal officials such as U.S. Representatives. Foley brought suit contesting the constitutionality of this limit and won in court. Nethercutt repeatedly cited the caption of Foley's lawsuit — "Foley against the People of the State of Washington." He also promised to serve no more than three terms (six years) in the House.[1]

In the 1996 elections, the Democrats mounted a serious bid to regain the seat, but Nethercutt won by an unexpectedly large 12-point margin even as Bill Clinton narrowly carried the district. He was handily reelected in 1998. In 2000, when his self-imposed three-term limit would have kicked in, Nethercutt changed his mind and announced his intention to run again, infuriating term-limits supporters. Nethercutt was nevertheless re-elected without much difficulty in 2000 and in 2002.

2004 Senate race[edit]

Rather than running for a sixth term in the House of Representatives, Nethercutt decided to run for U.S. Senate in 2004, hoping to unseat the incumbent, Senator Patty Murray. Term limits again became an issue in the campaign, as Democrats quickly seized on Nethercutt's broken term-limits pledge.

Nethercutt was also hampered by his lack of name recognition in the more densely populated western part of the state, home to two-thirds of the state's population. Washington has not elected a senator from east of the Cascades since Miles Poindexter in 1916. Other important issues included national security and the war in Iraq. Nethercutt supported the invasion of Iraq, while Murray opposed it.

Nethercutt was a heavy underdog from the start, and his campaign never gained much traction. In November, he lost by 12 points, receiving 43 percent of the vote to Murray's 55 percent.

Current employment[edit]

Nethercutt left the House of Representatives at the end of his term in January 2005, but has said that he probably will not retire from politics completely. In 2005, he and two other political veterans (former Interior Department deputy secretary J. Steven Griles and former White House national energy policy director Andrew Lundquist) joined to form the political lobbying firm of Lundquist, Nethercutt & Griles, LLC. Nethercutt now serves as Chairman of Nethercutt Consulting LLC, Of Counsel for Bluewater Strategies in Washington, DC, Of Counsel with Lee & Hayes, an intellectual property law firm in Washington State, and is a member of several corporate boards. He is the author of the book "In Tune with America: Our History in Song," writes a monthly column for The Pacific Northwest Inlander newspaper and records radio commentaries for several radio stations.

The Nethercutt Foundation[edit]

Nethercutt has founded The George Nethercutt Foundation in Spokane, Washington. The Foundation is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization[2] dedicated to fostering civic involvement. The foundation accepts applications from college students who aspire to be Nethercutt Fellows. The Nethercutt Fellowship involves, among other things, a trip to Washington, D.C. where fellows have the opportunity to see the inner-workings of the United States government.

Electoral history[edit]

Washington's 5th congressional district: Results 1994–2002[3]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1994 Thomas S. Foley 106,074 49% George R. Nethercutt, Jr. 110,057 51%
1996 Judy Olson 105,166 44% George R. Nethercutt, Jr. 131,618 56%
1998 Brad Lyons 73,545 38% George R. Nethercutt, Jr. 110,040 57% John Beal American Heritage 9,673 5%
2000 Tom Keefe 97,703 39% George R. Nethercutt, Jr. 144,038 57% Greg Holmes Libertarian 9,473 4%
2002 Bart Haggin 65,146 32% George R. Nethercutt, Jr. 126,757 63% Rob Chase Libertarian 10,379 5%
Washington Senator (Class III) results: 2004[3]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2004 Patty Murray 1,549,708 55% George R. Nethercutt, Jr. 1,204,584 43% J. Mills Libertarian 34,055 1% Mark B. Wilson Green 30,304 1%

References[edit]

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tom Foley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th congressional district

1995–2005
Succeeded by
Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Party political offices
Preceded by
Linda Smith
Republican nominee for United States Senator from Washington
(Class 3)

2004
Succeeded by
Dino Rossi