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George Nethercutt

From Academic Kids

George R. Nethercutt, Jr. (born October 7, 1944), American politician, was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 2005, representing the Fifth Congressional District of Washington.

Born in Spokane, Washington, he attended Washington State University and Gonzaga University, graduating with a degree in Law. He served as Staff Council and later Chief of Staff to Senator Ted Stevens, Republican, of Alaska (now President pro tempore of the United States Senate) before returning to private practice in Washington State. Specializing in estate and adoption law, he also founded the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, a private, not-for-profit institution to help prevent child abuse.

Nethercutt was elected to the House in 1994 in a dramatic election in which he unseated the Speaker of the House Thomas S. Foley; it was the first time a sitting Speaker of the House was unseated since 1860. In Congress, he sat on the House Appropriations Committee and the House Science Committee.

Nethercutt's campaign against Foley largely depended on 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 had 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" – and promised each time that he would serve no more than three terms in the House.

After Nethercutt's narrow victory over Foley in 1994, he was re-elected in 1996 and 1998. In 2000, when his pledge to serve only three terms would have kicked in, Nethercutt changed his mind and announced his intention to run for re-election again, infuriating term-limits supporters. Nethercutt was nevertheless re-elected in 2000, and again in 2002.

Nethercutt declined to run for a sixth term in the House. Instead, he chose to run for U.S. Senate in 2004, hoping to again unseat an incumbent, this time Senator Patty Murray. Term limits once again became an issue in the campaign, as Nethercutt's broken promise to limit himself to three terms in the House was one of the issues that Democratic advertisements focused on. Other important issues were national security and the war in Iraq. Nethercutt supported the United States's invasion of Iraq, while Murray opposed it.

Nethercutt was defeated in the race for the Senate seat in the November 2, 2004 elections. He received 43% of the vote, compared to 55% for Murray. He retired from the House of Representatives at the end of his term in January 2005, but says that he probably will not retire from politics completely. For now, he and two other political veterans (former Interior Department deputy secretary J. Steven Griles and former White House national energy policy director Andrew Lundquist) have joined to form the political lobbying firm of Lundquist, Nethercutt & Griles, LLC.

Preceded by:
Tom Foley (D)
U.S. Representative
Washington 5
Followed by:
Cathy McMorris (R)

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