Carte Goodwin

Recovering Politician

THEN: U.S. Senator (WV), 2010 NOW: Attorney, Goodwin & Goodwin Full Biography: link

Former U.S. Sen. Carte Goodwin: The Dog Catches the Car — AN EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT from The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis

Click here to purchase e-book for ONLY 99 CENTS this week only

Click here to purchase e-book for ONLY 99 CENTS this week only

Some times crisis can be borne of tremendous good news – a chance of a lifetime; or put another way, when the dog finally catches the car.  As one of my political heroes, President John F. Kennedy, once noted, “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity.”

I’m living testament to that principle.  A childhood dream almost literally was dumped in my lap.  It was an extraordinary opportunity.  But it came with considerable responsibilities and posed some serious challenges.

And I learned a powerful lesson for all forms of crisis management: Keep your head and sense of humor when all around you are losing theirs.

* * *

 In July 2010, I was a 36-year-old attorney, recently returned to private practice after an incredible four-year stint as General Counsel to West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin.  Then, West Virginians were saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Robert C. Byrd – one of the true lions of the Senate and West Virginia’s most beloved public servant.

Governor Manchin had a strong interest in serving in the Senate (and ultimately, he would run for and win the seat); but as a man who believed in the sacred rites of our democracy, he did not want to appoint himself to the vacancy:  He’d let the voters decide if they wanted to give him the honor of federal office.

But he also recognized that the people of West Virginia needed representation during the four months before a special election could be held.  And much to my incredible honor, Governor Manchin appointed me to serve as West Virginia’s junior U.S. Senator.

Senator Byrd cast quite a long shadow, and it was daunting to contemplate being appointed to fill the seat previously occupied by the longest serving legislative member in the history of the United States.  I could not begin to replace Senator Byrd or ever hope to fill his enormous shoes, but what I could do was emulate his work ethic and commitment to West Virginia – which is precisely what I strove to do during my four months in Washington, a town ruled by Congress, Blackberries and Members-only elevators; and a place where fame (and infamy) can come and go in a matter of hours.

CarteOfficial_Portrait(Side note: Years before, former Oklahoma standout and Chicago Bulls forward Stacey King saw limited action in an NBA game, hitting a single free throw.  That same night, his teammate Michael Jordan poured in 69 points.  Afterwards, King joked that he would always remember that game as the night that he and Jordan “combined for 70 points.”  Similarly, rather that describing my term as “four months,” I usually characterize it by saying that Senator Byrd and I combined to serve over 52 years in the United States Senate.)

Within days of my arrival, men and women I had studied in law school were introducing themselves to me, welcoming me as one of their own, then asking for my vote in the same sentence.  And I wasn’t alone; I was immediately put at the helm of a full Senate staff – many of whom had served for decades under Senator Byrd. I was given a personal secretary and press secretary – no longer would I be the one answering the phone in my own office.  However, I declined the offer of a personal driver and walked myself to work.

In fact, as the august body’s youngest member – and one who had never stood before the voters – I found it especially important to strongly resist all temptation to allow any of the unusual attention get to my head.  Maintaining humility was critical, but also approaching the extraordinary opportunity with a healthy sense of humor would be a necessary prerequisite.

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Click here to read the rest of Carte Goodwin’s extraordinary chapter by purchasing The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis for only 99 cents this week only.

RPTV Friday Video Flashback: Carte Goodwin Casts First Vote as Senator

If you read contributing RP Carte Goodwin‘s inaugural piece on Wednesday, you learned that the first vote he cast in his brief four month tour of duty as a U.S. Senator was one of his most important.  Indeed, Carte was the deciding vote to break a fillibuster in order to extend unemployment benefits to some of the nation’s most needy citizens.

Today’s RPTV Friday Flashback memorializes that epic moment in Carte’s life:

Carte Goodwin: My Brief but Fascinating Experience as a U.S. Senator

When Jonathan Miller called me and asked whether I would be interested in contributing a piece to a new website he was starting called “The Recovering Politician,” I was admittedly a little reluctant.  First, I’m wary of the characterization of “politician” – not because of any negative connotation, but rather because I’m not sure I qualify since I never had sought elective office   And irrespective of that first concern, I’m fully aware that it would be quite a stretch to claim that I’ve “recovered” from the extraordinary experience of serving in the United States Senate.

Last July, 2010, Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia appointed me to fill the vacancy caused by the passing of Senator Robert C. Byrd – one of the true lions of the Senate and West Virginia’s most beloved public servant.  Senator Byrd cast quite a long shadow, and it was daunting to contemplate being appointed to fill the seat previously occupied by the longest serving legislative member in the history of the United States.  I could not begin to replace Senator Byrd or ever hope to fill his enormous shoes, but what I could do was emulate his work ethic and commitment to West Virginia – which is precisely what I strove to do during my four months in Washington, a town ruled by Congress, blackberries and Members-only elevators, and a place where fame (and infamy) can come and go in a matter of hours. 

Stacey King, Michael Jordan and teammates celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first NBA title

(Side note: Years ago, former Oklahoma standout and Chicago Bull forward Stacey King saw limited action in an NBA game, hitting a single free throw.  That same night, his teammate Michael Jordan poured in sixty-nine points.  Afterwards, King joked that he would always remember that game as the night that he and Jordan “combined for 70 points.”  Similarly, rather that describing my term as “four months,” I usually characterize it by saying that Senator Byrd and I combined to serve over 52 years in the United States Senate. )

Within days of my arrival, men and women I had studied in law school were introducing themselves to me, welcoming me as one of their own, then asking for my vote in the same sentence.  And I wasn’t alone; I was immediately put at the helm of a full Senate staff – many of whom had served for decades under Senator Byrd. I was given a personal secretary and press secretary – no longer would I be the one answering the phone in my own office.  However, I declined the offer of a personal driver and did the unthinkable – walked myself to work.  

In no particular order, here are some random recollections and highlights from that heady time:

Press coverage & John Daly’s Pants?

John Daly's pants

I had to adjust quickly to the media attention.  I’d considered myself prepared for the press, after having spent four years as a senior staffer in the Governor’s office, doing the occasional TV or radio interview.  Yet, the appointment shot the level of attention into the stratosphere, with newspapers, television, blogs and everything in between weighing in with their thoughts on the relative merits of my appointment.  Nothing was off-limits.  To the delight of my buddies, one website offered an online poll debating where my looks stacked up against my fellow Senators, while a local West Virginia paper registered their enthusiasm for the appointment by describing it succinctly as “a letdown.” 

Indeed, the temporary burst of attention became so intense that on the day that my appointment was announced, I briefly topped Google’s Hot Searches, besting former NBA star Penny Hardaway, the iphone 4, and golfer “John Daly’s pants.”  I haven’t had the inclination to go back and find out why Daly’s pants made the top 10 that day.

Read the rest of…
Carte Goodwin: My Brief but Fascinating Experience as a U.S. Senator

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