Gov. Dixy Lee Ray, Washington's shoot-from-the-hip governor, lost her bid for reelection in Tuesday's primary election and said she will retire and raise pigs.
It was he first time since 1940 that an incumbent governor failed to win renomination.
Ray, a conservative Democrat backed by big business, outspent liberal state Sen. Jim McDermott by 3 to 1. Despite that, she received only 40 percent of the total Democratic vote, compared with McDermott's 57 percent.
In November McDermott, a child psychiatrist from Seattle, will face King County executive John Spellman -- the Republican whom Ray defeated four years ago.
Ray, 66, did not show up at her "victory" party in Seattle Tuesday night. Instead, she retreated to her Fox Island Home on southern Puget Sound as the vote came in and stayed home from work again today.Her $7,500-a-month campaign manager, Montgomery Johnson, lamented of the campaign, "It was one lion and a pack of jackals and they got her."
Ray's four-year term was turbulent and always controversial. She fought frequently with the legislature and congressional delegation. She once called the state's popular senior senator, Warren Magnuson, a "dictator." Congressman Norman Dicks called her politics "bush." State lawmakers rejected some of her political appointments and often summarily shipped back her proposal legislation without even putting it on the calendar.
Outrageous remarks tumbled in a seemingly nonstop stream from her lips throughout her career.
Describing the Sierra Club to the Everett Herald in 1977, she said, "My impression is that they hate people."
Another time, she said, "There is a cure for over-population and it's called starvation."
As head of the Atomic Energy Commission under Richard Nixon, she was an unswerving supporter of nuclear power. In 1976 she observed, "The first atomic warhead I ever saw was . . . like a piece of beautiful sculpture."
Ralph Nader termed her "professionally insane."
But Ray was an accomplished public speaker and charmed audiences all over the state. She had almost a folk-hero image when elected in 1976. Voters who grew up with her recalled her in a Girl Scout uniform covered with medals.
Short and portly, with pixie face and short-cropped gray hair, Ray never married. She lives in a mobile home with her dogs on the wooded Fox Island waterfront. She once drove a Jaguar, but now drives a jeep. For Christmas one year, she gave herself a chain saw.
Washington voters closely identified with Ray's independent no-nonsense approach to life. Supporters said they admired her guts. But independence began to be seen as stubbornness, and as the recession carved away at the state's timber and housing industries, voters grew less tolerant.
When Mount St. Helens erupted in May, Ray embarrassed Sen. Magnuson in front of President Carter by brusquely telling the president, spelling it out, that the state needed "M-O-N-E-Y," and needed it quick.
In June, at the state Democratic convention, Magnuson got even. He that super tankers were not coming into Puget Sound [despite her efforts to have them dock at a refinery] and that he was still very much alive despite her promise to appoint a legislator to his job when he died.
The speech gave a boost to the sagging McDermott campaign. The convention did not endorse Ray as a candidate. In the summer months, as Ray's gaffes continued, McDermott picked up momentum. In August, the state labor convention, traditional Ray supporters, opted to sit this election out.
She received 211,385 votes to McDermott's 299,105.