Tuesday, September 13, 2016

40 Years Ago--Memories Of The Wes Uhlman Campaign For Washington Governor

In 1976, Dan Evans, the 3 term governor of Washington, announced that he would not run for a fourth. Democrats had their best chance in over a decade to finally take the state house.  I was a teen and finally old enough to vote.  The candidate that excited me was the mayor of Seattle, Wes Uhlman. 
Uhlman was charismatic and considered one of the new breed of progressive mayors.  He was also a a close friend of my Uncle Arny, who at the time was practicing law in Seattle and active in local politics. 
I had just graduated from Walla Walla High School and about to enter WSU..  At the Walla Walla County Democratic summer picnic that year, my dad got to drive the Seattle mayor from the Walla Walla airport to the Gary Stromeyer (sp) ranch where Uhlman would be the main speaker.  That was where I first met Uhlman, whom I found a very engaging figure. The mayor gave my dad a Seattle tie for his driving duties, and my dad would later give the tie to me.
The next time I met  saw Uhlman in person was at the Walla Walla Fair.  I got to walk in his entourage as he shook hands with fair goers.   I was impressed with one of his staffers, who was the daughter of a Washington State Legislator. 
Sadly, a few weeks later, Uhlman would lose the Democratic Primary (at that time the Washington primary was held in Mid September), Dixie Lee Ray, who I felt was much more conservative than even the sitting Republican governor, would carry the Democratic Banner.  I so mad that I did not vote for her, although it was a good year for Democrats.  Jimmy Carter was elected president and Dixie Lee Ray was elected governor.  In the years that followed, Washington voters would get buyer's remorse for choosing Ray.
Uhlman would never again run for public office.  No subsequent Seattle mayor has been successful seeking higher office.


Jason Remington said...

I remember Uhlman. He seemed to be very easy going, fairly popular as I recall. He once appeared on the JP Patches show. So, if JP liked him, and it seems he did, that was good enough for me!

Mike Barer said...

Thank you, Jason! Great comment!