Five Dartmouth alums hit the campaign trail

by Ritika Nandkeolyar | 11/1/00 6:00am

What do one senator and four congressmen seeking reelection have in common? They are all Dartmouth alums.

Sen. Slade Gorton '49 (R - Wash.)

First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980, Gorton began his political career in 1958 as a representative in the Washington state house. In 1968 Gorton was elected Attorney General of Washington state, and he received the Wyman Award as "Outstanding Attorney General in the United States," in June 1980 for his work in that office.

Gorton is in a close race with Democrat and former Congresswoman Maria Cantwell, who has the nominations of major regional papers including The Seattle Times.

In the state's primary election, held September 19, Cantwell garnered 36 percent of the total vote, while Gorton earned 44 percent. Since the primary ballot listed all the candidates running for office in the same ballot, Cantwell could also pick up the 12 percent who voted for Deborah Senn, her chief challenger for the Democratic nomination opponent, in the actual election. While three candidates challenged Gorton for the Republican nomination, none of them gained more than 1 percent of the total vote.

Originally from Chicago, Gorton moved to Washington state in 1953 after earning a law degree from Columbia University.

Libertarian Jeff Jared is also running for the office. Hot issues in the state include taxes and the environment.

Rep. Charlie Bass '74 (R - N.H.)

Charlie Bass '74 is seeking reelection for a fourth term in the House as a representative for New Hampshire's second district, which includes Hanover.

Bass, who was a government major at Dartmouth, worked on a research project his senior year in which he studied electoral behavior by matching up demographic and census patterns with past election results. He told The Dartmouth that the understanding of voters he gained from the project has been useful for his campaigns.

His major passion in college was flying. He earned his pilot's license freshman year with the Dartmouth Flying Club.

Bass first sought office in 1980 when he tried for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House. He lost that bid, but earned a seat in the New Hampshire House in 1982. Bass defended that seat until 1989 went he moved to the New Hampshire Senate which he held until 1994.

In 1994, Bass suffered what he calls "the ultimate humiliation," -- a loss as an incumbent in the primary election. Then in 1995, in an attempt to decide whether he should stay in politics, Bass tried for the U.S. House seat and was successful.

Bass' major opponent in this year's race is Democrat Barney Brannen, and the race has attracted much attention on campus as student supporters have campaigned for both candidates. Brannen has outspent Bass two to one, mostly on television advertising, but that doesn't seem to have significantly hurt the Bass campaign. According to latest poll figures reported in The Washington Post, the district will most likely reelect Bass.

"What really worked for me was John McCain's campaign," Bass said, adding that in New Hampshire it was the old fashioned system of grassroots organization that mattered most.

"McCain's campaign [style] placed an active emphasis on field reps, and every town has town chairman that we call every week," he said. "There are signs up all over the place and people representing me in every town -- that's silent television and it works."

Rep. Rob Portman '78 (R - Ohio)

Rob Portman '78 is also bidding for a fourth term in Congress as a representative for Ohio's second district.

Portman, who was an anthropology major at the College, credits a sophomore year internship at his congressman's office as planting the seed of public service.

"Watching [Congressman] Bill Graddison's staff made me think of public service as honorable and interesting," he said in an interview with The Dartmouth

During college, Portman served on freshman council and was elected to the Inter-dormitory council by Butterfield residence hall.

Portman wrote a thesis on immigration during his senior year , and he earned a post-graduation job at the Presidental Commission on Immigration based on his thesis work .

"It was kind of interesting to take an academic background and apply to policy," he said.

After graduating from the University of Michigan Law School, Portman practiced business and international law as a partner in a Cincinnati law firm. During this time he also did volunteer work for public officials including then-Vice President George Bush.

After Bush's election as president, Portman served as Associate Counsel to the President and then as Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, from 1989 to 1991.

Graddison's announcement that he was retiring from his seat prompted Portman to run for office. Portman won and ended up replacing the man who had inspired him.

Portman said the issues that mattered the most to him were reforming the internal revenue service and rethinking retirement options.

He said that he is currently involved with the George W. Bush campaign and helped formulate campaign policy on social security and medicare.

He also helped vice-presidental hopeful Dick Cheney for his debates by playing Joe Lieberman.

Democrat Charles Sanders and Libertarian Robert Bidwell are also running against Portman, but the district is historically staunchly Republican and it's likely that Portman will win.

Rep. Michael E. Capuano '73 (D - Mass.)

Congressman Mike Capuano '73 is seeking a second term in the House as the representative for Massachusetts' eighth district, which includes Cambridge, Somerville, Belmont, Watertown, Chelsea and approximately half of Boston.

Capuano, who ran opposed in the primary election on September 19, is a sure bet for reelection.

He has held a variety of elected offices over the past 20 years. He began his career in public service in 1977 as an alderman in Somerville, Mass., in a seat once held by his father. Capuano also served as Somerville's Mayor for a record five terms.

Rep. Donald Sherwood '63 (R -Penn.)

Another freshman member of Congress seeking a second term is Pennsylvania 10th district's Don Sherwood '63.

Sherwood, who majored in economics while at Dartmouth, founded Sherwood Chevrolet of Tunkhannock and several other successful business before running for public office. He also has served six terms on the Tunkhannock area school board.

Sherwood is in a fairly close race with Democrat Patrick Casey, but the district has leaned Republican for decades and this may ultimately pay off for Sherwood.