The Good Hair Test: Reichert Wins


Years ago Jack de Yonge, my boss on the P-I editorial page, had a theory about elections. While most pundits pick the tallest candidate to win, Jack saw things differently. His rule: “The candidate with the best hair wins.”

The de Yonge theory could prove something of a factor in next year’s competition for Washington state governor. Looking at the field of announced candidates, there is one likely front-runner on the Republican side: Dave Reichert, the former King County sheriff who went on serve seven terms in the U. S. House before retiring in 2019.

During his years in office and on the campaign trail, Congressman Reichert was easily identified by his shock of perfectly coiffed silver hair. He looked as if he’d been drafted from Central Casting to play the part. Although he likely inherited his lawman’s rugged looks (grandson of a Detroit Lakes, Minn. town marshal) and physique (football scholarship at Portland’s Concordia Lutheran), he had a secret weapon when it came to maintaining that distinctive appearance.

Reichert’s extra push came with help from his hair stylist. Dave has long been a client of Roberto, a quiet genius known for working his scissors to enhance the looks of high-ranking officeholders, bureaucrats, business leaders, and influencers.

For someone famed at power hair, Roberto (full name Roberto Rodriguez) came from humble beginnings. He graduated from high school in Granger, a small town in Yakima County. When he’d asked his school counselor for help finding a scholarship, the only thing available was at a beauty school. Once trained, Roberto was drafted, sent to Vietnam, where, when his skills became known, he trimmed the hair of soldiers lined up 50 deep. Once out of the service, Roberto trained with Gene Juarez. Shortly afterwards a client, Attorney Judith Runstad, persuaded him to open a downtown salon at 1111 Third Avenue.

Roberto was on his way. He was soon tending to Seattle celebs: councilmembers like Sue Donaldson and Martha Choe, Supreme Court Justice Bobbe Bridge, Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen, former Attorney General Rob McKenna, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Gov. Gary Locke, and former first lady Mona Lee Locke. And not incidentally, Eighth District Congressman Dave Reichert. While serving at City Hall, I, too, was a grateful client. Seated in Roberto’s chair at the salon, I couldn’t help spotting headshots of his regulars (Blethen and Reichert) stuck to one corner of the mirror.

Asked this week about Reichert’s hair, Roberto wasn’t reticent. He said, “Dave’s hair is exceptional. It must rank as the best of anyone running.” Roberto had spoken with the candidate whom, he said, “has been hoping for the Hispanic vote.”

Roberto explained that, when the pandemic struck, he closed his downtown salon. However, it was Runstad who, supportive again, called and told Roberto he needed to go to client’s homes and cut hair. Since then, he has been making house calls. During our conversation, Roberto volunteered that he’s a Democrat (something I never knew since he offers bipartisan services). But he added, “Dave’s always been a moderate and I like him. I may even have to send a donation.”

Jean Godden
Jean Godden
Jean Godden wrote columns first for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and late for the Seattle Times. In 2002, she quit to run for City Council where she served for 12 years. Since then she published a book of city stories titled “Citizen Jean.” She is now co-host of The Bridge aired on community station KMGP at 101.1 FM. You can email tips and comments to Jean at


  1. “Dave’s always been a moderate and I like him. I may even have to send a donation.”

    Well, all respect to this hair designer, but as a man he may consider Reichert a moderate. I don’t. Reichert always was and remains vehemently anti-choice. As a congressman, he voted in lockstep with Donald Trump 92% of the time. He even voted in favor of defunding Title X, which provides federal funding for family planning. So, no birth control funding, and no right to an abortion, either?

    Reacher’s fondest wish to take away women’s rights to control their reproductive freedom were realized after the Dodd decision.

    This attempt to make Dave Reichert seem warm and cozy just really flies in the face of his voting record. Women aren’t going to be buying into it.

    • That’s right, Reagan the “lovable dunce” … not my expression, I’m only repeating it.

      I don’t mean Douglas McLennan is attempting to sweeten Dave Reichert. I kind of suspect Judith Runstad is trying to get him elected. I’ll never forget how she kicked Planned Parenthood out of United Way’s funding….even when PP guaranteed they would not use any funding for abortions. Only for women’s health care and family planning contraceptives. United Way’s donations dropped dramatically as a result.

  2. Probably not fair to blame Doug McLennan for this aside, since I wrote it. Doug posted it and I suspect he accidentally used his own byline rather than mine.
    Don’t know if Roberto ever did Doug’s hair along with all the other pols etc., but Roberto did his best to tame my coiffure.

  3. Years ago there was an adage that in order to make promotion to general officer in the USAF one needed to have at least two of three: 1) be tall 2) be from Texas 3) have a full head of hair. Short, bald persons from Michigan, for example, had no chance.

    People who vote for him will judge Dave Reichert by the quality of his positions, his qualifications, and his character. Having a full head of hair (or not) in Washington state is not a criteria for public office (unless, of course, you’re hopelessly superficial).

    Those who philosophically dislike Dave Reichert will undoubtedly ‘hiss and spit’ over every little thing, e.g., good hair/bad hair. They will need to ‘get a life’ and chill.

    • How candidates look definitely matters in elections – to deny this reality strongly suggests to me that you are either naive or willfully ignorant (or that you support this candidate but want to seem neutral, which really falls under the willfully ignorant category if I’m being charitable or that you’re being intellectually dishonest if I’m not).

        • Please note for the record that their response was a total deflection that avoided the impolite but pertinent questions I asked.

          (and kudos appreciated – I think it comes from my early exposure to the work of George Carlin and other 60’s/70s professional skeptics).

      • Oh my, if it’s been reduced to the superficiality of beauty contest, then, as Joseph de Maistre, observed “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.” (Lettres et Opuscules, August 27, 1811).

      • Yes, except for, I think Booth Gardner and Dan Evans, oh, and Rossellini, a good head of hair is essential to winning in WA. at least for governor. I think Maggie was blessed in his young days.
        That said, I wonder how I would take this artice had I not kept most of my hair.

        • Then again, a full head hair might also be indicative a low-T (testosterone) condition. For some, that might alone be a deciding factor.
          /// sarcasm off ///
          Washington State would be well-served by leaders of high integrity who will keep the well-being of the state and its people at heart.

    • You are determined not to mention his anti-choice stance, his defunding of PP contraceptives….adroit change of subject, fooling no one.

  4. Good question, Neil. Judging only by the look, I’d guess that Dixie did it herself using a bowl andblunt scissors. Either that or she solicited help from her buddy Lou Guzzo.

    • I was young when she was elected, and i voted for her, and i still felt conflicted because i both admired and disliked her positions. I think it’s difficult to take a strong position on complex issues, like her hair and atomic energy.


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