Political Tell-All Has Capitol Atwitter -- Ex-Lawmaker Lists Good, Bad And Ugly
Seattle Times Olympia Bureau
OLYMPIA - People may have been lining up for copies of Gov. Gary Locke's budget yesterday, but the hottest publication to roll off government presses is being grabbed up from a small office in a far corner of the Capitol.
"Ray Moore - An Oral History" is the candid, funny and often biting story of 70 years of Washington political history from the eyes of a Republican-power-broker-turned-Democratic-state-senator.
Moore, who has known every state governor since 1925, came to Olympia as a boy shortly after the last block of marble was raised on the Capitol. He was forced from office by questions of whether he really lived in his Seattle district or at his coffee ranch in Hawaii.
It's more than 260 pages of personality profiles and stinging political critiques.
Here's his take on a former Democratic legislative colleague now on to bigger things:
"As I told Patty Murray when I was doorbelling in her first race, `You have two assets. You're not beautiful, and you have crooked teeth - count your blessings because no women voters will be jealous or afraid you might steal their spouse. They'll vote for you.' "
The book has been Capitol cafeteria fodder since it came out shortly after Thanksgiving.
"People come in to pick up the book and flip to the index to see if they're in it," said Anne Kilgannon, editor of the oral history project in Secretary of State Ralph Munro's office.
It's hard to tell whether people are relieved to find themselves left out of the tell-all or disappointed to have not merited mention in the cantankerous chronicle.
It's a stark portrait of Washington politics, but according to Moore, it could have been harsher.
"I didn't always tell the truth. I didn't want to hurt the innocent or the guilty," Moore said yesterday.
The oral history is the 11th published by Munro's office. The interviews were done while Moore was still in the Legislature and are supplemented by his own writings.
Moore, 87, was born in Seattle and moved around the state as his father found work as a civil engineer. In 1925, his father was then-Gov. Roland Hartley's supervisor of public utilities. As a young Republican, Moore served as assistant chief clerk of the House in 1947 and for six years was King County GOP chairman. He ignored advice from President Nixon that he run full-page newspaper ads attacking Democrats in the final weekends of a campaign.
He was an active civil-rights campaigner through the 1950s. In 1964, propelled by his opposition to the Vietnam War and GOP support for the death penalty, he became a Democrat.
There were four unsuccessful legislative campaigns, two in each party, before Moore was elected to the state Senate from Seattle's Queen Anne-Magnolia district in 1978.
Rep. Helen Sommers, D-Seattle, a longtime Moore friend, said she was taken aback by some of Moore's candor.
"Some of it is pretty strong. People are going to feel upset," Sommers said.
Moore said this week he has no regrets.
"I've always called it like I saw it" he said. "Why show the white feathers now?"
Here's Moore on recent governors:
Gov. Gary Locke: "Gary Locke encouraged the mantle of brilliance to clothe him. Personable, mastered the art of appearing sincere. He wore all the accolades with a certain attractiveness. . . . I'm not mad at Gary, I'm just happy there are three thousand miles and a mountain range between us."
Former Democratic Gov. Mike Lowry: "Hard-core, old-fashioned, liberal Democrat. A good-natured prophet, really. I think the public wants to like him, but Governor Lowry is too often the textbook case of how not to operate. . . . He was an unusually good legislator miscast as governor."
Former Democratic Gov. Booth Gardner: "Booth Gardner's great regret was that there were only 24 hours in a day in which to be adored. Anybody - people, kids, dogs - they were all the same to him . . . Richard Nixon would have called him a candy-assed, touchy-feely type."
Former Republican Gov. John Spellman: "Very under-confident. Spellman was an average governor with a slightly above-average staff. He is a likable fellow, particularly if you like people who use a pipe as a prop."
The oral history shows Moore angry about what led to his resignation.
It was reported that he was spending quite a bit of time at his Hawaii ranch rather than in his district. King County eventually revoked Moore's residency. He resigned in August 1994. He still lives in Hawaii.
Moore blames, in part, Locke who was King County executive at the time. He also is critical of Democratic politicians who he said were eyeing his seat, and Seattle's gay community that was hoping Moore's departure would open a seat for an openly gay lawmaker.
He said press reports about his residency were orchestrated by "two huge public figures, of whom I have been publicly critical." He didn't name them.
He told his interviewer in 1994, before he resigned, that he never understood why he was a target because he didn't plan to run again.
"What is so magic about trying to get me out now? No further session, why not just let me die on the vine? Why? I'm nobody. I never was anybody. I was lucky to be here. I didn't do much damage while I was here. I might have done a little good."
The full oral history of Ray Moore can be found at the secretary of state's Web site at www.secstate.wa.gov/oralhist/ ------------------------------- RAY MOORE'S THOUGHTS
Some excerpts from Ray Moore's thoughts on Washington politicians:
Rep. Clyde Ballard, House co-Speaker from East Wenatchee: "I originally thought of him as just another Reagan-style troglodyte, but as he matured, I realized I had (as I often do) underestimated Clyde Ballard."
Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle: "I'd feel comfortable in a lifeboat with Ken. He has standards from which we could all learn, and he is possibly the least prejudiced person with whom I served."
Sen. Dan McDonald, R-Yarrow Point, and congressional candidate: "Dan strengthens my argument that there should no more than one engineer per legislative body. Nonetheless, I respected and liked Dan. . . . He is a good, pedestrian legislator, like many of us."
Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn: "Smart and clever, she can smell an issue before almost anyone. By my standards, an ultimate rightist who has no doubt regarding her views. I doubt we ever voted together, including recessing for lunch. Her dedication is admirable, but her direction lacks the human touch."
Deborah Senn, state insurance commissioner and U.S. Senate candidate: "She came to the office with little experience, but she has shown she is a fast learner. And she has all the earmarks of a populist."
Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.