More On Blair Butterworth (HQ 1961,Ghana 1962-64)


Sh*t Blair Butterworth Said

Seattle lost a political legend with the death of master strategist Blair Butterworth. In his memory, a compendium of his greatest quips.

By Knute Berger

April 02, 2013blair-butterworth_fit_300x300

Politics lost a local legend last week with the death of Seattle Democratic political consultant Blair Butterworth (Joel Connelly’s obit is here). One thing Butterworth was known for: quotability. He was, in the terms of old-school press coverage, a “phrase maker,” a guy whose pithy comments about state, local or national politics could make a reporter’s or columnist’s copy sound better. In his memory then, a few bits gleaned from the archives.

On Frank Blethen’s threat to move the Seattle Times to the Eastside in 2001:

“‘I think anyone reading the comments would think he’s just been seething until he finally imploded,’ Butterworth said, adding that Blethen’s statements were so ‘bizarre’ they wouldn’t be taken seriously. However, Butterworth said he had to be careful about what he says about Blethen. ‘I remember the dog,’ he said, referring to a 1996 incident in which Blethen shot a neighbor’s dog with a pellet gun. Blethen later agreed to perform community service and pay vet bills in return for dismissal of misdemeanor animal cruelty charges. ‘I’m staying away from him,’ Butterworth quipped.” – From the Seattle P-I

On Congresswoman Linda Smith:

“Leave it to Democratic political consultant Blair Butterworth to have the final and one of the more memorable takes on Republican Congresswoman Linda Smith’s poor showing against Sen. Patty Murray on Nov. 3. Making the point that Smith’s confrontational style of politics seems to have grown stale with voters, Butterworth likened Smith to an aging stripper, saying: ‘At some point, you don’t look anymore.'” – From the Seattle Times:

On “anti-infanticide” ballot measure I-694:

“To say this is not about abortion is to say that Monica Lewinsky and the president is not about sex.”

On his boss Dixy Lee Ray:

“We thought she would be the best governor Washington ever had, or the worst, and we were right.”

On Gov. Gary Locke:

“This is not a malleable pol. You can’t reinvent him.” 

On Congressman Rod Chandler:

“Would you get up early in the morning to vote for Rod Chandler? I mean, you know.”

On Mayor Paul Schell after WTO:

“I would be extraordinarily surprised if he doesn’t emerge as strong or stronger than before.”

On Seattle City Councilmember Judy Nicastro:

“She’s stirring the pot and God knows we need that. I can’t stomach the fact that these staid old farts feel threatened by her because they don’t have a connection to her.”

On Republican re-invention:

“Butterworth is admirably succinct when asked what he thinks of [Chris] Vance’s contention that the Republicans have a new message and less abrasive tone that will put them back in the game. ‘It’s bullshit. Vance is in denial,’ he says. Butterworth contends that since 1988, when Pat Robertson’s Christian soldiers hijacked the Republican Party caucuses, the state’s Republican base has been dominated by anti-government wackos: ‘It’s awfully hard to recruit a great athlete to play on your team if you hate the game.'” – From The Stranger:

On Gov. Chris Gregoire:

“She’s not going to have a slam-dunk re-election no matter what she does. Not even if she, like Moses, leads Washington into the promised land.”

On Phil Talmadge‘s run against Gary Locke:

“Phil’s out there having a good time. It’s easy to go around and talk about wonderland.”

On Seattle’s Green Line Monorail:

“‘It will be built,’ said Blair Butterworth, a political strategist for the monorail campaign who now advises one of the prospective construction teams. ‘I have no doubt it will be built. I have no doubt it will be done on budget. I have no doubt that if he possibly can do it, he will do it with enough money left over to get to Northgate.'” – From the Times

Explaining why Jim McDermott was losing to Booth Gardner in ’84:

“What can I say? If the polls are accurate, it means that the train’s going down the track. For the last nine months we’ve done everything we could to keep the train off the track…”

On Politicians:

“Politicians are paranoid. They all wake up in the middle of the night convinced something’s going to happen, and they’re going to lose and have to find honest employment. At some point, these people bolt up in the middle of the night, dripping sweat that the Lyndon LaRouche candidate won. Then they take another Alka-Seltzer, and their spouse says, ‘There, there, dear.'”

Knute Berger is Mossback, Crosscut’s chief Northwest native. He also writes the monthly Grey Matters column for Seattle magazine and is a weekly Friday guest on Weekday on KUOW-FM (94.9). His newest book is Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes On Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps, and the Myth of Seattle Nice, published by Sasquatch Books. In 2011, he was named Writer-in-Residence at the Space Needle and is author of Space Needle, The Spirit of Seattle (2012), the official 50th anniversary history of the tower. You can e-mail him at

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Printed on April 02, 2013

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