Slater talks life as political writer

Before retiring last December, Wayne Slater was the senior political writer for The Dallas Morning News.

He covered Texas and national politics for 20 years. His newspaper assignments included spending 16 months full time covering the 2000 presidential campaign of George W. Bush and reporting on Bush’s 2004 re-election race.

But Slater never forgot his Parkersburg roots.

Slater graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1966 and from West Virginia University four years later with a degree in journalism.

His first job in journalism after college was as a reporter at The Parkersburg Sentinel from 1971-73.

“I still remember Brad Kincaid, who was a kind and understanding editor, photographer Dave Ferrell and columnist Jim Snyder. All great guys,” Slater, 67, said of his work at the Sentinel.

The committee putting together a reunion of the 1965 state champion PHS track team on April 18 at Stadium Field was hoping Slater, a member of the team, could attend.

“It would be so great to see the guys from 1965 – Phil Parsons, Bruce Rogers, Larry Rhodes, Willie Stutler- all friends. Great memories of them and of Russ Parsons, who was such an inspirational figure. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend. I have a conflict that won’t allow me to get back to Parkersburg,” Slater wrote in an email.

Slater was born in Lubbock, Texas, but his parents, Howard and Ouida, moved the family to Parkersburg when Wayne was in the first grade. Howard, a mechanical engineer, worked for DuPont at the Washington Works.

Although he would later cover national politics for many years, Slater noted he passed up an opportunity to listen to presidential candidate John F. Kennedy when he made a campaign stop at Parkersburg City Park in 1960.

Slater, who was 12 years old, decided to play tennis instead at the City Park courts. He said he later regretted his decision when he saw his friends with campaign posters from Kennedy’s visit signed “Jack.”

Slater said his two favorite political races to cover for the Dallas newspaper were in 1990 when Democrat Ann Richards won the Texas governor’s race and four years later when George W. Bush defeated Richards in her re-election bid.

“Ann Richards was the best speaker in a room. She was extraordinaire,” Slater told me. “She was astonishingly funny, smart.”

Slater also had kind words for George W. Bush. He said Bush ran a “brilliant” campaign against Richards in 1994. “He never attacked her,” said Slater, who lives in Austin, Texas.

Slater described Bush as a “wonderfully engaging and nice guy” as governor of Texas and a presidential candidate. “You could not hate George Bush. You might not like his policies.”

Slater senses a tension, a competitive rift between George Bush and his brother Jeb. “Jeb Bush is a wonk, smart and intellectual. George is street smart,” Slater said.

Slater and Jim Moore co-authored two books on Texas political consultant Karl Rove – “Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential” and “The Architect: Karl Rove and the Dream of Absolute Power.”

Slater spent 10 years as a reporter for the Associated Press, including in Charleston, before joining The Dallas Morning News in 1985.

Slater’s wife, the former Dianne Gluff, also is a 1966 graduate of Parkersburg High School.


In January, while lifting weights in a garage gym in Parkersburg, David Hall, Jared Renner, Lia Renner, Randy and Debbie Ferrell decided they wanted to help people find strength in the fight against cancer. These friends have been lifting weights with a goal of lifting 320 pounds (Lia wants to lift 205 pounds and Debbie will be walking) on March 21 to raise money in the battle against cancer. They plan to walk two miles after lifting these weights with their donations going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Hall, a chiropractor in Williamstown, is asking everyone to walk, run, golf, rock climb or do some type of exercise on March 21 and donate money to an organization seeking a cure for cancer. The group wants people to post their stories on Facebook about their reasons for fighting cancer through exercise.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com


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