Dick Bond, the rock-ribbed Republican legislator who gained fame in some circles and notoriety in others for leading a 1982 tax revolt against his own party’s governor, died Wednesday morning.
Bond, who would have turned 94 next month, was in an assisted-living facility and had been in poor health, said his son David Bond, of Wallace.
Born in Spokane, Richard M. Bond joined the V-12 training program for Navy and Marine officers during World War II. He attended Cal-Tech and then the University of California at Berkeley, where he met his future wife, Patty, while they were both serving on the student council, his son said.
He was on a ship en route to Japan as a Marine officer when the war ended. The family moved around the U.S., and lived for a time on Vancouver Island before returning in the mid-1960s to Spokane, where he worked for a natural gas company.
He was a longtime private pilot and a director of the National Rifle Association.
“He had a raucous laugh, an even greater sense of humor, and, even greater than that, a spirit of adventure and a disdain for (B.S),” David Bond, a journalist and former Spokesman-Review columnist, wrote in a farewell tribute. “He had a pilot’s heart and a disdain for common thinking.”
In 1968, Bond was recruited to run against Democrat Tom Foley, who was finishing his second term as Eastern Washington’s congressman. It was a close race, and a contentious one, David Bond recalled, but afterward Foley nominated one of Dick’s other sons, Marc, to the Air Force Academy. Six years later, he won a state House of Representatives seat in Spokane’s 6th Legislative District, which at the time consisted primarily of the South Hill and was among the state’s most reliably Republican.
In Olympia, Bond quickly established a reputation as a strong fiscal conservative, which in 1982 led to a well-publicized clash with Republican Gov. John Spellman, who was struggling to balance the state budget in the midst of a recession. Republicans had captured the Legislature and the governor’s mansion in 1980 on a no-new-taxes platform, and the House GOP proposed a budget with deep cuts to programs. Spellman said that would decimate public schools and universities.
The budget was so bad, Spellman said at a press conference to call for a special session, that it seemed like something a group of troglodytes had drafted. Bond had drafted a letter signed by two dozen Republicans calling for the all-cuts budget, and when reporters asked him about the governor’s characterization, he responded: “I didn’t know he knew big words like that.” He became the head troglodyte, was widely quoted and even featured in editorial cartoons.
They had “Join the Troglodytes” buttons made and certificates of membership printed up, and Bond presented a button to Spellman. Eventually, the Legislature passed a budget that raised money by temporarily reimposing the sales tax on food, and many of the Republicans who went along lost their re-election races that year. Spellman lost his re-election campaign in 1984.
Bond did not vote for the tax and he was re-elected twice more before retiring from the House in 1986.
In an interview last year, Spellman said he probably shouldn’t have used the term troglodyte, but said he had no hard feelings over the dispute. “He’s a pretty good guy,” the former governor said of Bond.
The family plans a private ceremony after a cremation in Alaska, and plans to scatter his ashes with those of his late wife, who died about three years ago.
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