Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

George Nethercutt, who defeated Speaker Tom Foley in 1994, dies at 79

By 37ci3 Jun18,2024



SEATTLE — Former U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt was a Spokane lawyer with limited political experience when he overthrew the Democratic Party. Speaker of the House Tom Foley He died in 1994 as part of a stunning GOP wave that swung national politics to the right. He was 79 years old.

Nethercutt died Friday near Denver of progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare, neurodegenerative brain disease, his son said in an email Monday.

“He lived a life of faith, family, community and service, never sacrificing his principles as a statesman,” said Elliott Nethercutt.

Halfway through President Bill Clinton’s first term, the 1994 midterm elections were a landslide victory for Republicans who took control of both houses of Congress for the first time since the early 1950s.

Nethercutt was chairman of the Spokane County Republican Party and served as Chief of Staff in the 1970s. Alaska Senator Ted Stevens but had not run before challenging Foley.

Foley has represented the district for 30 years – the last five as speaker of the House of Representatives. Nethercutt’s campaign ads focused on Foley’s opposition to term limits and pointed out that Foley was in office because “Bonanza” was the best show on television.

Foley was the first speaker since 1860 to lose re-election.

Nethercutt joined other 1994 GOP candidates in signing the Compact with America. Among these priorities were the adoption of term limits; Nethercutt said he would serve no more than three terms, but broke that promise and served five terms before giving up the seat in 2004 to run unsuccessfully against Democratic Sen. Patty Murray.

“George Nethercutt was a giant among men who served the people of Eastern Washington with honor and patriotism for ten years,” the Republican said. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who now holds Nethercutt’s former seat, said in a Facebook post. “George was a man of character who led with kindness and conviction, and he was someone I looked up to long before the day I was sworn in to represent the Fifth District, with whom we share such love.”

His priorities in office include finding new international markets for agricultural products from eastern Washington, securing federal money for Fairchild Air Force Base and supporting research grants for Washington State University.

Like many other Republicans elected in the 1994 wave, he had a conservative voting record and supported the impeachment of Clinton for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

After his tenure in Congress, he became a lobbyist and worked with the George Nethercutt Foundation, which promotes civics education through scholarships, competitions and study tours to Washington.

While attending memorial services for Nethercutt Foley He died in 2013 and two years ago, he joined the advisory board of Washington State University’s Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service.

He also established an endowment at the university to establish the George Nethercutt Lecture Series on Civic Engagement.

“Since 2008, my foundation has promoted civic education among students so they are prepared to engage with our democratic system — a system that depends on informed citizen participation, open dialogue and compromise to function properly,” Nethercutt said at the time. .

Nethercutt was born in Spokane in 1944 and graduated from Washington State University in 1971 before graduating from Gonzaga University Law School. As a law student, he briefly clerked for Foley’s father, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Ralph Foley.

Nethercutt is survived by his wife, Mary Beth Nethercutt, whom he married in 1977; two children, Meredith Nethercutt Krisher and Elliott Nethercutt; sister Nancy Nethercutt Gustafson; brother John Irving Nethercutt; and a granddaughter, Holly Beth Krisher.



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