A look back at unique Washington governors

Feb 10, 2015, 9:50 AM | Updated: 12:44 pm
Local historian Feliks Banel shares some stories of interesting governors in Washington's past with KIRO Radio's Morning News. (Washington state archives)
(Washington state archives)

As Washington residents prepare to prod Gov. Jay Inslee with questions on KCTS’ “Ask the Governor” Tuesday night, historian Feliks Banel helps us take a look back at a few lesser-known governors in Washington’s past who might’ve made for a good chat.

Governor for a day: Samuel Cosgrove (6th governor)

Gov. Samual Cosgrove is not very well-known anymore. He was elected in 1908. Cosgrove was the first to be elected in the direct primary system where you actually had to fund your own election and go around the state and campaign. Previously, you had to actually be picked by your party and nominated.

After being elected, Cosgrove said he wasn’t feeling well so he went to California for a couple weeks. He came back for the inauguration, gave a speech to the Legislature and said, let me take a few more weeks off and recover, he went to California again and he died. He’s known as governor for a day, but my count he was governor for about 15 minutes.

Divorcing governor: Fayette McMullen (2nd territorial governor)

There were all these territorial governors who came through here in the nineteenth century. These territorial governors were appointed by the president. A president who was 3,000 miles away in Washington D.C. and usually appointing somebody who’d done some favor for him.

Fayette McMullen was our second territorial governor. A famous historian of the nineteenth century said McMullen’s chief objective in moving to Washington was to divorce one woman and marry another. Apparently, there was some kind of legislative divorce process where you could petition the Legislature for divorce back in the 1850s, 1860s and that’s why McMullen came to Washington. The plan apparently worked and McMullen married the daughter of a Thurston County pioneer.

Listen for more of Feliks’ tales about past Washington governors:

KCTS 9’s “Ask the Governor” featuring Gov. Jay Inslee will be broadcast live on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Submit questions here or tag questions with #askthegov and @KCTS9 during the show. Learn more.

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A look back at unique Washington governors