George Nethercutt

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George Nethercutt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2005
Preceded byTom Foley
Succeeded byCathy McMorris Rodgers
Personal details
George Rector Nethercutt Jr.[1]

(1944-10-07) October 7, 1944 (age 79)
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
SpouseMary Beth Socha
EducationWashington State University (BA)
Gonzaga University (JD)

George Rector Nethercutt Jr. (born October 7, 1944) is an American lawyer, author, and politician. 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.

Early life[edit]

Born in Spokane, Washington, and a graduate of North Central High School, Nethercutt earned a B.A. in English from Washington State University in 1967 and a J.D. degree from Gonzaga University in 1971.[3] 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) from 1972 to 1977 before returning to private practice in Washington State.[3]

He formerly served as a town attorney for the communities of Reardan, Creston and Almira.[2] He is a former chair of the Spokane County Republican Party.[2] He is the co-founder of the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.[2]

Congressional career[edit]

Nethercutt with President George W. Bush in June 2004

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 had run for office. The district had been growing 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 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.[4]

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 2002.

Nethercutt's congressional papers are held at Gonzaga University.[5]

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 Clarence Dill in 1928. 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, 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. While he dominated the eastern portion of the state, including his own congressional district, he only won two counties west of the Cascades, Clark County and Lewis County.

Post-congressional career[edit]

Nethercutt left the House of Representatives at the end of his term in January 2005, but said that he would probably not completely retire from politics. 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) formed the political lobbying firm Lundquist, Nethercutt & Griles, LLC.[6] Griles resigned in 2007, after he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with the Abramoff scandal, the top Bush administration official to do so.[7]

Nethercutt serves as Chairman of Nethercutt Consulting LLC, is of counsel for the law firms of Bluewater Strategies and Lee & Hayes, and is a member of several corporate boards. He is the author of the book In Tune with America: Our History in Song,. Hewrites a monthly column for The Pacific Northwest Inlander newspaper, and records radio commentaries for several radio stations.[8]

Nethercutt is also a board member on the Dutch board of JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

The Nethercutt Foundation[edit]

Nethercutt has founded The George Nethercutt Foundation in Spokane, Washington. The Foundation is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization[9] 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[10]
Year Democratic 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[10]
Year Democratic 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%


  1. ^ "George Rector Nethercutt, Jr Profile | Spokane, WA Lawyer |". Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d 2003-2004 Official Congressional Directory: 108th Congress
  3. ^ a b Spring 2012 Fellows. Harvard University Institute of Politics. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  4. ^ "Editor's Note: Another GOP revolution? | Crescent City California News, Sports, & Weather | The Triplicate". Archived from the original on 2011-07-17.
  5. ^ Plowman, Stephanie. "LibGuides: Manuscript Collections: Nethercutt". Retrieved 2018-10-26.
  6. ^ "Nethercutt joins firm led by ex-Cheney energy adviser". Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  7. ^ Grimaldi, James. "Judge Orders Prison Time for Ex-Interior Deputy". Washington Post. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  8. ^ "Ex-Congressman Nethercutt to address MBA students". WSU Insider. 7 September 2010. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  9. ^ Spokane County WA – Tax Exempt Organizations and Spokane Washington Non Profit Organizations
  10. ^ a b "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Archived from the original on 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2007-08-08.

External links[edit]

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

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for United States Senator from Washington
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative