Our Views: Slade Gorton Was a Powerhouse for Our State, Community


Former attorney general and state and national lawmaker Slade Gorton passed away almost two years ago, but like many families who lost loved ones during the time of COVID-19, the Gorton family had to put off the memorial service. 

The memorial service for our three-term U.S. senator was held May 4 at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle.

In the U.S. Senate, Slade was our champion. He took up the problems of small towns, rural communities and families and fought for us, sometimes against long odds, on the floor of the Senate. 

Our community and our state never had a more able and articulate advocate than senator Gorton. He was a powerhouse. Nobody took on a fight against Gorton lightly. 

As state attorney general, he argued 14 cases before the United States Supreme Court. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger said no state attorney general was as effective in argument.

Gorton spent an enormous amount of time in Lewis County and further proved his commitment to our communities by placing Lewis County residents on his staff over the years. 

He said if he had a dollar for every time he met with community groups at the Kit Carson restaurant meeting room in Chehalis, he could have retired a year earlier. 

A runner, Gorton ran in races in Morton, Centralia, Toledo and Winlock. 

In the midst of the fight over federal regulations to stop timber harvest on federal lands, Gorton stood in the rain and the mud of the Morton high school football field and said this: “The families of Morton send their sons and daughters to serve and fight in America’s armed services. You pay your taxes. This community and dozens like it in the Northwest were built around the federal government’s promise of a sustainable timber supply. Now, some in Washington, D.C., are proposing to break that promise and destroy jobs and the economic futures for thousands of working families and your community. It is the parents of these families that sent me to fight for them and their future in the Senate of the United States. I am in this fight and on your side, come what may.”

Gorton’s effective work in the U.S. Senate had a positive impact on every community across our state. 

Many of his accomplishments are part of our daily life. 

The Seattle Mariners would be in another state if it wasn’t for Gorton. Daylight savings time runs longer during the year in America because of Gorton. He introduced and passed the last federal budget that put the nation on a path toward a balanced budget. 

Sadly, others later took us off of his path.

The Chronicle Editorial Board sends its condolences to the Gorton Family on behalf of our grateful community.