FOR THE RECORD: Saturday, March 18, 1995 CORRECTION: An article about the GOP Lincoln Day Dinner that ran in the March 12 edition of The Spokesman-Review wrongly attributed some remarks made by Mike Fitzsimmons to Richard Clear. Fitzsimmons, not Clear, introduced the head table.
Republicans were in their glory Saturday night.
About 715 of them gathered from across the state to meet potential candidates for governor, hear U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt speak and delight in the 1994 Republican landslide victory.
“It’s just damn great to be a Republican again,” KXLY radio personality Mike Fitzsimmons told the cheering crowd at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner in Spokane.
Nethercutt received a standing ovation as KGA talk show host Richard Clear introduced him as “the man who made history.”
Nethercutt’s victory over former House Speaker Tom Foley marked the first time a sitting speaker has been defeated since the Civil War.
One hundred items - from a Nethercutt for Congress sweatshirt on a Tom Foley cardboard doll to a jelly bean-filled jar sporting Ronald Reagan’s likeness - were sold in a silent auction.
Six potential GOP candidates for governor - former state Sen. Ellen Craswell, Tacoma attorney Jim Waldo, state Rep. and Majority Leader Dale Foreman, state Sens. Pam Roach and Dan McDonald and former King County GOP Chair Nona Brazier - also were introduced and spoke for three minutes apiece.
“I think it’s safe to say Mr. Lowry’s in trouble,” Clear said after introducing them. Clinton jokes and Lowry-bashing were the sports of the evening in the red, white and blue decorated room.
Republican camaraderie was the intent of the evening but the candidates were not above a little friendly competition.
“Aren’t they a great bunch?” Craswell asked the crowd, motioning to the other gubernatorial candidates. “I’d be happy to have any one of them for my lieutenant governor.”
When it was Nethercutt’s turn, he took the crowd on a tour of his first 60 days as a member of Congress. He spoke of meeting the two most famous people in Washington, D.C., - former singer Sonny Bono and President Clinton.
When he met Clinton, Nethercutt said, “I wanted to say, in the worst way - but didn’t - thank you, Mr. President, for helping me get elected.”
Nethercutt bashed Democrats and the media for propagating negative publicity about the Republican’s “Contract With America.” Republicans are not trying to hurt the poor, the elderly or welfare recipients, he said.
Pointing to issues such as the House’s passage of the balanced budget amendment and line item veto, Nethercutt lauded the efforts of the 104th Congress.
The House of Representatives, not the president, is “driving the debate,” Nethercutt said, promising “debate galore” in the months to come.
“The American public will have faith again in this government,” he said.