New Website: martyrusso.com

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 4.30.40 PMI am pleased to announce that I have launched a new website to share videos, recorded stories and photos from speaking engagements and my long political career.  Head over to www.martyrusso.com and discover historical surprises amid all the new endeavors.


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Watergate Class of 1974 Congressional Election

Former Congressman Marty Russo recalls the Mid-term Election which swept the huge Democratic Watergate Class of 1974 into Congress.

The November 5 marks the 40th anniversary of my election to Congress in 1974.  It is a great time to think back and reflect on the history of the country and events which propelled an underdog Democratic candidate to victory.  It’s also humbling to remember all the wonderful people who helped me in my campaign.

Here’s a brief history and an interesting photo gallery.  Thank you again to everyone who has helped me over the years – I appreciate you tremendously!

Russo1974campaign

The Story

In 1973, at the age of 29, I was slated as the candidate for the Illinois Democratic Party to run for the 3rd Congressional District which at that time consisted of the Southwest side of Chicago and surrounding south and southwest suburbs.

I ran as a challenger to Republican Congressman Robert P. Hanrahan who was just completing his first term.  Congressman Hanrahan won the 1972 election with 62% of the vote while President Richard Nixon received 70% of the 206,000 votes cast.  As a former Assistant State’s Attorney, it was a formidable task to try to unseat the incumbent in a “safe” Republican district.

Locally, we put together a energetic campaign with the help of friends, family, local community leaders, union members, students, and many volunteers.  My friend, Bob Macari worked as campaign manager.

It was an honor to meet great Chicago political figures like Mayor Richard Daley, Senator Adlai Stevenson, and Congressman Dan Rostenkowski (whose advice to me was “Get here on your own and then I’ll help you.” ) Eventually he became my mentor and very close friend.

From Washington, although at first I could not attract much attention, eventually I received help from a young Senator from Delaware, Joe Biden, as well as garnering visits from future President Jimmy Carter and future Vice President Walter Mondale.

We worked hard on the campaign, going everywhere to meet people, talk to community organizations, jogging in parades, putting up thousands of yard signs.

The surprise factor in the campaign was the unexpected resignation of President Richard Nixon.  The fallout from this event resulted in Republican apathy and disenchantment with politics.

As a result, we scored a surprise upset by besting incumbent Robert Hanrahan by a 53-47 margin.  I was honored to be able to represent the people of the 3rd District for nine terms.

Marty Russo 1974 Campaign

Former Congressman Marty Russo was elected in 1974 as part of the anti-Watergate wave of Democrats.

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American Australian Leadership Dialogue In Honolulu

Former Congressman Marty Russo attends the Honolulu Leadership Dialogue for the American Australian Leadership Education Foundation.

It was a very interesting experience to travel to Oahu to join in the high level discussions about defense related issues that jointly face Australia and the United States.

The meetings included a full day off site at PACOM and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Field where we received briefings on defense and national security activity and plans as well as a tour of the many impressive features of the base.

I was deeply impressed by the professionalism of our military and civilian leaders.  Here’s a photo gallery and commentary on some of the highlights.

  • The PACAF Luncheon and Briefing was held in the Courtyard of Heroes where you can still see the bullet holes from the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.  I’m told that all throughout the base, they have kept the bullet holes intact as a reminder to be ever vigilent.
  • We toured a C-17 and it was fascinating to check out the cargo area and sit in the cockpit.  It was a nice memory of my time 20 years ago at Cassidy & Associates when we ran the campaign to save the C-17 from budget cuts.  It’s nice to see that they are still in use!
  • For me, the most heartfelt moments of the day were when we toured the USS Michael Murphy, guided missile destroyer that is among the most advanced, state of the art war ships in the fleet.  It is named for the 28 year old Michael Murphy who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan in June 2005. He was the first sailor awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.  As we toured this ship which cost well over a billion dollars you could feel the pride that its young sailors felt about serving on a ship named after “one of them.”
  • It was a pleasure to see my good friend, Governor Neil Abercrombie and tell stories of our days in Congress.

Australian American Leadership Dialogue Honolulu 2014

[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_rcs_hawaii_air-force-1.jpg]Hall of Heroes, Pearl Harbor-Hickam Field
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_rcs_hawaii_air-force-2.jpg]Bullet holes from strafing on December 7, 1941
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_img_2176.jpg]Original flag that flew over Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_img_2177.jpg]Former Congressman Marty Russo and General Hawk Carlisle
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_rcs_hawaii_air-force-4.jpg]C-17 on display at Pearl Harbor-Hickam Field
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_rcs_hawaii_air-force-8.jpg]Marty Russo in the cockpit of a C-17 at Pearl Harbor-Hickam Field
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_rcs_hawaii_air-force-7.jpg]Marty Russo in the cargo hold of a C-17 at Pearl Harbor-Hickam Field
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_rcs_hawaii_air-force-6.jpg]USS Michael Murphy - a proud ship
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_img_2220.jpg]Portrait of Michael Murphy on board the destroyer named after him
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_rcs_hawaii_air-force-5.jpg]Marty Russo and the USS Michael Murphy
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_img_2259.jpg]The big guns
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_img_2231.jpg]View of Pearl Harbor from the deck of USS Michael Murphy
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[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_img_2277.jpg]Leadership
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_img_2226.jpg]Military briefing on the guided missile destroyer Michael Murphy
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_img_2247.jpg]The powerful guns of the USS Michael Murphy
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/australian-american-leadership-dialogue-honolulu-2014/thumbs/thumbs_img_2140.jpg]American-Australian Leadership Dialogue in Honolulu 2014
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Chicago Columbus Day Parade

Former Congressman Marty Russo talks about the Chicago Columbus Day Parade in 1986 when Vice President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush joined in the fun.

George Bush, Marty Russo and Barbara Bush

Vice President George H. W. Bush, Congressman Marty Russo and Barbara Bush march in the 1986 Chicago Columbus Day Parade

As an Italian-American in Chicago, one of the iconic experiences is the yearly Columbus Day Parade put on by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans.

Each year, it was an honor to march in the parade along with such dignataries as the mayor, the governor, state senators and representatives, local officials and other community leaders.

In 1986, it was an especially rewarding experience as my good friend, then Vice President George H. W. Bush agreed to join us along with his wife, Barbara Bush.

This photo with the Bushes is very special to me as it shows the close friendship and camaraderie we felt.

I have to admit there were a few raised eyebrows when the Republican Vice President walked the entire parade alongside a Democratic Congressman.  Indeed, later that day, the VP went on to several fundraisers for Republicans.It was the magic of sports that made us become close friends — first as the paddle-ball partner for the VP (and later President) as well as being golf buddies.

VP George H. W. Bush, Marty Russo and Barbara Bush

VP George H. W. Bush hoists 5 year old Rafael Thompson in the 1986 Columbus Day Parade in Chicago alongside Mayor Harold Washington, Congressman Marty Russo and First Lady Barbara Bush

It’s a reflection on the goodness and kindness of GHWB that when a small child ran out from the crowd toward the Vice President, he scooped him up without hesitation into a welcoming embrace.  It was totally spontaneous and the crowd loved it.  Mayor Harold Washington was marching with us and this photo by The Chicago Tribune showing VP Bush and young Rafael Thompson was front page news.

Its a good feeling to view this photo almost 30 years ago and remember the warmth on that (probably) cold Chicago day.

 


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Michael Wilbon Golf Tournament

Former Congressman Marty Russo joins NFL greats at the Michael Wilbon Golf Tournament.

It was a pleasure to meet many great athletes of the National Football League and join in this effort for a good cause.  The tournament was played for the benefit of the District of Columbia College Access Program .  DC-CAP is a non-profit organization that provides counseling and financial assistance to students who might otherwise never have the opportunity to attend or graduate from college.

Michael Wilbon Golf Tournament

Former Congressman Marty Russo joins the NFL greats at the Michael Wilbon Charity Golf Tournament.


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