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Robert "Bob" Russell works as a Congressman of the Democratic Party to Western Colorado and serves as Vice President of the United States under President Josiah Bartlet from 2003 and 2007.


Russell was born in the 1950s, not many years after Leo McGarry.[1] He was the son of Robert Russell, Sr. He had flat feet and took to wearing cowboy boots to help his walking. It later contributed to his persona.

Like John Hoynes before him, and in contrast with Jed Bartlet, Bob Russell comes across as a pragmatist and career politician. He has no personal issue with making incompatible statements or promises which will not be fulfilled, only a concern about any that might do so visibly. He shows no clear signs of true loyalty to anyone else, and during his campaign for the nomination is entirely willing to be the first candidate to 'go negative'.

However, since his role as VP is largely to 'balance' the President and bring to the ticket what he does not, he is in many ways a good running mate for Bartlet: as a moderate, from the west with more a 'man of the people' image with close ties to both the business community and the republican leaders in congress. He is shown to be less inclined to hand-wringing over morally difficult decisions, because (apparently) to him they aren't. Matt Santos being an idealist in the Bartlet vein, there are clear contrasts between the two.

Russell maximizes his own exposure and positive publicity, for example slipping into his own good wishes for President Bartlet's health in "Impact Winter" the fact that he was "playing tennis when I heard".


After a lengthy public career in Colorado,[2] Russell was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1994, and won reelection in 1996 and 1998. [3] He would serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee with Congressman Jeff Haffley.[4] Congressman Russell also served alongside Congressman Matt Santos the House Administration Committee, also known as the "Siberia" of House Committees.[5] In 1996 he voted for the Helms–Burton Act, renewing sanctions on Cuba, later emphasizing this in Florida in his 2006 presidential run. Exit polls also showed voters in his conservative district associated him with his strong support for a Flag Desecration Amendment. He was a stalwart supporter of Israel, going on a CODEL to the country and describing US support as a "black and white issue", and he kept abreast of developments in nuclear technology, due to uranium mining in Colorado and Israel's interest in submarine-based nukes. However, he was otherwise a lightweight on foreign policy, confusing Iran and Iraq, Sudan and Somalia and Sunnis and Shiites. He had close ties to the Western Colorado Mining Company - he was frequently mocked for this as the "Congressman from WestCo Mining" and Hoynes attack ads in 2006 emphasized this ("When Russell was in Congress, Common Cause called him big mining's best friend. Congress Watch said there isn't a mining loophole or giveaway he won't support"). However, he defended this as being due to them being the biggest employer in his district, five times as many as anyone else in the Colorado 3rd. He also felt he was personally liked at home because he honestly enjoyed local "rubber chicken" political events, unlike some other politicians.

Bartlet's Terms[]

After the resignation of Vice President John Hoynes due to a sex scandal, Bartlet's first choice to replace him was Lewis Berryhill, his Secretary of State. However, Berryhill's nomination was opposed by the House and Senate and the Republicans, along with more than a few Democrats, most notably the Minority Leader. Instead, and with some reluctance, Bartlet appointed Bob Russell under the provisions of the 25th Amendment, after Congressional Republicans made it clear that they would not confirm a more viable candidate who could conceivably be nominated to succeed Bartlet. Russell was seen as a "bland Congressman," known for getting along with people at home and in the House. He won reelection in the 2000 mid-terms and in Bartlet's 2002 "lonely landslide." He had met Josh Lyman on one occasion, although it was brief and he didn't believe Josh would remember him. Russell was on the list of names given by conservative Republican Speaker of the House Jeff Haffley, which included several other "politically-unappealing" individuals. Russell asked for direct access, with weekly lunches, and would go on to hire then-Deputy Communications Director Will Bailey as his chief of staff. As part of his increased access, Bailey would attend staff meetings.[3]

A centrist Democratic Representative from the Western Slope of Colorado at the time of his appointment, Russell was initially derided by some of the senior West Wing staff as mediocre, shallow and a tool of Colorado mining interests. Russell's dismissive nickname around Washington was "Bingo Bob" or "Buffalo Bob". However, he soon established himself as an ambitious and shrewd politician with a wry awareness of his own shortcomings. Russell often used self-deprecating humor to try and get past his dullness, using jokes like "Bob Russell is so dull his Secret Service codename is Bob Russell."

2006 election[]

In time, Russell vies with Hoynes and U.S. Representative Matt Santos of Texas for the Democratic presidential nomination during the 2006 Presidential Election. After a strong early start as the presumptive Democratic nominee, Russell lost the crucial California Democratic primary, and several later primaries, to Santos. Russell offered Santos and then Pennsylvania Gov. Eric Baker the opportunity to be his running mate, but both declined. After several deadlocked ballots at the Democratic National Convention, President Bartlet threw his support to Santos, as did a key teacher's union leader, and Santos secured the presidential nomination, with former White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry as his running mate.

Russell's chief of staff and later campaign manager was Will Bailey; Donna Moss also joined his campaign staff, eventually becoming his press secretary. He was briefed on a Norwegian working dinner.[6] When his chief of staff, Will Bailey took over as White House Communications Director, C.J. went to make amends with Russell.[7] When Bruno Gianelli found a briefcase belonging to Matt Santos, it consisted of a day planner with embarrassing notes on how Santos disliked Russell.[8] A week before Election Day, Russell was campaigning in his home state for Matt Santos.[9] Colorado would end up swinging Democratic that year.[10]

Russell was amongst the dignitaries who attended Leo McGarry's funeral. As he wasn't far behind Leo in age, it spurred him to consider working out more. After the wake, he called Matt Santos with an offer to "stay on as VP." He was congratulated on his years of service, but the offer was not taken.[1]


  • Bob Russell was stated to be the "Congressman from Western Colorado", probably the 3rd District, which encompasses most of the western portion of the state.

Notes and references[]

John Hoynes
Vice President of the United States
July 2003 – January 20, 2007
Eric Baker (unconfirmed)
bartlet cabinet
Vice President   John HoynesBob Russell
Secretary of State   Lewis Berryhill
Secretary of the Treasury   Ken KatoKaren Browning
Secretary of Defense   Miles Hutchinson
Attorney General   Dan LarsonAlan Fisk
Secretary of the Interior   Bill Horton
Secretary of Agriculture   Roger Tribbey
Secretary of Commerce   Mitch Bryce
Secretary of Labor   Carl ReidJack Buckland
Secretary of Health and Human Services   Blieden
Secretary of Education   Jim Kane
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development   Deborah O'LearyBill Fisher
Secretary of Transportation   Keaton
Secretary of Energy   Bill TrotterBen ZaharianGerald Deloit
Secretary of Veterans Affairs   Jason Weaver
White House Chief of Staff   Leo McGarryC.J. Cregg
Director of Central Intelligence   TomRob KonradGeorge Rollie

Crandell (D) | Moseley (R)
Hammond (D) | Russell (D) | Wallingford (D)