He held office as Washington’s 18th governor for one term, and was the last Republican to be elected as the state’s governor.
John D. Spellman died at the age of 91 on Monday night.
Spellman was the governor from 1981 to 1985. He was also the first King County executive from 1969 to 1981.
Spellman came along at a time when Republicans across America had large gains.
During that time, Spellman had to deal with hard economic issues due to the early 80s recession that hit Washington and much of the U.S.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Kim Wyman released a statement about the former governor’s death:
“I’m saddened to hear about the loss of John Spellman, our former Washington Governor, and King County’s first county executive. John was a true statesman and a deeply spiritual man who promoted racial equality and environmentalism, and persevered at every turn to build the Kingdome.
“Personally, I greatly admired Governor Spellman for his integrity, his vision and his tireless dedication to the people of Washington. Our thoughts and prayers remain with his family during this difficult time.”
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Spellman was regarded as a man of integrity and began his political career by joining the King County Commission in 1967.
He later would defeat state Sen. Jim McDermott, who was a Democratic candidate. Spellman's lead over McDermott was reported as a lopsided margin in the general election.
During that time, Washington state would suffer through a tough recession.
In 1984, Spellman ran for a second term, but voters had anxiety about the weak economy and what could be done. He was not reelected.
Spellman was born in Seattle in the mid-1920s, but grew up on the Eastside and attended Seattle Preparatory Academy. He also served in the Navy during World War II and earned his undergraduate degree at Seattle University, then went on to earn a law degree at Georgetown University.
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