Slade Gorton (born 1832)

Slade Gorton

This article is about the senator; Slade Gorton (born 1832), who co-founded Gorton's of Gloucester was an ancestor of the senator.

Thomas Slade Gorton III (born January 8 1928) is an American politician. A Republican, he was a U.S. senator from Washington state from 1981 until 1987, and then from 1989 until 2001. He held both of the state's Senate seats in his career and was defeated for reelection twice as an incumbent; in 1986 by Brock Adams, and in 2000 by Maria Cantwell.


Gorton was born in Chicago, Illinois and served in the United States Army from 1945 until 1946. He then attended and graduated from Dartmouth College. He graduated from Columbia Law School, and served in the United States Air Force from 1953 until 1956, continuing to serve in the Air Force reserves until 1980. Meanwhile, he practiced law, and entered politics in 1958, being elected to the state legislature of Washington, in which he served from 1959 until 1969, becoming one of the highest-ranking members. He was then Attorney General of Washington from 1969 until he entered the United States Senate in 1981. During his three terms as Attorney General, Gorton was recognized for taking the unusual step of appearing personally to argue the state's positions before the Supreme Court of The United States and for prevailing in those efforts. In 1980 he defeated longtime incumbent U.S. Senator and state legend Warren Magnuson on Ronald Reagan's coattails and an "it's time for a change" ad campaign.

1988 Election

After his 1986 defeat, he ran for the state's other Senate seat (open at the time) in 1988 and won.

In the Senate, Gorton had a moderate-to-conservative voting record, and was derided for what some perceived as strong hostility towards Indian tribes. His reelection strategy centered on running up high vote totals in areas outside of left-leaning King County (home to Seattle).

1994 Election

In 1994 he repeated the process. He was an influential member of the Armed Services Committee as he was the only member of the committee during his tenure to have reached a senior command rank in the uniformed services (USAF).

He campaigned in Oregon for Gordon Smith and his successful 1996 Senate run.

2000 Election

In 2000, Democrat Maria Cantwell turned his "it's time for a change" strategy against him and won an upset victory by 2,229 votes.

Furthermore, Washington's Indian tribes strongly opposed Gorton in 2000 because he consistently tried to weaken Indian sovereignty while in the Senate.

Post-Senate years

In 2002, Gorton became a member of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (popularly known as the "9/11 Commission") and the commission issued its final report in 2004.

In 2005, Gorton became the Chairman of the center-right Constitutional Law PAC, a political action committee formed to help elect candidates to the Washington State Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

Gorton is an Advisory Board member for the Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy. He also serves as a co-chair of the National Transportation Policy Project of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Gorton represented the city of Seattle in a lawsuit against Clayton Bennett to try to keep the NBA franchise formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics in Seattle according to a contract that would keep the team in Key Arena until 2010. The city reached a settlement with Bennett, allowing him to move the team to Oklahoma City for $45 million with the possibility for another $30 million. For full article, see Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City.


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