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*[[Office of the President| Bartlet White House]]
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{{succession box|before=''unknown''|title=United States Secretary of Labor|current=Leo McGarry|after=eventually [[Carl Reid]]|}}
{{succession box|before=''unknown''|title=[[Secretary of Labor]]|current=Leo McGarry|after=eventually [[Carl Reid]]|}}
{{succession box|before=''unknown''|title=[[White House Chief of Staff]]|current=Leo McGarry|after=[[C.J. Cregg]]|}}
{{succession box|before=''unknown''|title=[[White House Chief of Staff]]|current=Leo McGarry|after=[[C.J. Cregg]]|}}
{{succession box|before=[[John Hoynes]]|title=Democratic Vice Presidential candidate|current=Leo McGarry|after=''unknown''|}}
{{succession box|before=[[John Hoynes]]|title=Democratic Vice Presidential candidate|current=Leo McGarry|after=''unknown''|}}

Revision as of 00:20, March 25, 2009

❝ In a triumph of the middling, a nod to mediocrity, and with gorge rising... ❞

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Toby Ziegler

Leo Thomas McGarry (born 1946, Chicago, Illinois - died November 7, 2006, Houston, Texas) was the former United States Secretary of Labor, former White House Chief of Staff, Senior Counselor to Democratic President Josiah Bartlet, Democratic vice presidential nominee for the 2006 election, and the Vice President-Elect of the United States.

Leo McGarry was portrayed by John Spencer.

Biographical Information

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Having resigned from his post as Secretary of Labor some time in mid-1997, Leo went to New Hampshire to persuade Governor Josiah Bartlet, an old friend, to run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Having so persuaded Bartlet, Leo became his campaign manager, dubbing the campaign "Bartlet For America" and hiring such top political talent as Josh Lyman, Toby Ziegler, C.J. Cregg, and Sam Seaborn to work for the campaign. Eventually, Governor Bartlet, who was considered to be an insurgent candidate by the media, defeated Senator John Hoynes of Texas (whom Leo picked as Bartlet's vice presidential nominee to balance the ticket) for the nomination and went on to win the presidency.

As President Bartlet's top advisor, Leo had an office adjacent to the Oval Office and sat in with the President in the Situation Room. Leo was very involved in the formation of policy and the day-to-day operations of the White House and its staff. Leo was a recovering alcoholic and valium addict. His problems with alcohol, as well as his workaholic attitude towards his job as Chief of Staff, contributed to his divorce from wife Jenny. It has also been revealed that Leo was an Air Force veteran, having flown F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bombers in the Vietnam War.

Leo McGarry was from Chicago, Illinois, though there seems to be some family connection to (likely one or more of his parents were born in) Boston, Massachusetts. In seasons 2 and 6, Leo was said to be from Chicago, and in a season 1 episode Josh Lyman called Leo "Boston Irish Catholic." During the episode The Portland Trip, it was strongly suggested by a conversation between the President and Leo that Leo attended the University of Michigan, at least for undergraduate work.

Leo and Jenny have a daughter, Mallory, who was a recurring character and was a potential love interest for Sam Seaborn. Mallory and Sam spent most of their time arguing; Mallory usually picked the fights just to have Sam argue with her. Since Sam left the White House, Mallory has been largely absent from the show as well.

In season six, McGarry had a heart attack outside Camp David, leading to his replacement by C.J. Cregg, the White House Press Secretary. He later returned to work after Bartlet's last State of the Union Address in his new role as Senior Counselor to the President. He stated that he would not work in any presidential campaign to succeed Bartlet. However, Bartlet asked him to run the Democratic National Convention when it seemed likely to deadlock. In the finale of the last episode of the sixth season, it was revealed that the Democratic Party's presidential nominee, Congressman Matt Santos, had selected McGarry as his vice presidential nominee and that McGarry had accepted. This was particularly ironic, because McGarry had earlier repeatedly insisted that Santos drop out of the race for the sake of party unity.

During the ensuing campaign, the press and others tended to refer to McGarry as "Mr. McGarry" as opposed to "Secretary McGarry" as would be the standard protocol for a former cabinet member.

On Election Night, McGarry went up to his hotel room in Houston to take a nap before the results came in. McGarry collapsed in his hotel bathroom of an apparent heart attack. He was found by Annabeth Schott who rushed him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. McGarry's death came ninety minutes before the polls closed in California and other western states, thus giving some voters this information prior to casting their vote. Despite McGarry's death, the Santos-McGarry ticket narrowly won the election over the Vinick-Sullivan ticket by a 30,000 vote margin in Nevada and McGarry posthumosly became the Vice President-Elect after Santos's victory.

McGarry's funeral was held at an unnamed Catholic church, though the funeral was filmed at The Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore, Maryland. President Josiah Bartlet, President-elect Matthew Santos, Josh Lyman, Charlie Young, former DNC head Barry Goodwin, and McGarry's unnamed son-in-law served as pallbearers. Vice President-Elect McGarry was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Though McGarry was not seen again onscreen (in flashback or otherwise) after his death, his presence (and lack thereof) is felt in the final episodes of the series, most prolifically in the series finale when his daughter presented a gift to President Bartlet that she found in Leo's posessions. In the show's final scene, Bartlet opened the gift to find the napkin with the words "Bartlet For America", which McGarry had written to start Bartlet on their journey almost a decade ago.

Whitford Spencer

Josh Lyman and Leo McGarry.

Parallel to Bush Administration

It should be noted that Leo's approximately seven-year tenure as Chief of Staff would be rather extraordinary in our world (though, during the current Bush Administration, Chief of Staff Andrew Card served for over five years). The average tenure since 1945 has been approximately two years — however this may not be true in the West Wing universe. Leo would also be considered historically a very powerful Chief of Staff - comparisons could be drawn to H. R. Haldeman (often called the "second most powerful man in America" during Richard Nixon's administration) in terms of influence and closeness to the President, if one ignores Haldeman's ethical foibles.

There appear to be many similarities between McGarry's character and real life Vice-President Dick Cheney. Both were former Cabinet Secretaries and White House Chiefs of Staff, and both are older and considered to be more experienced than their respective running-mates. It seems that Santos' choice of McGarry as his running-mate is due to his own lack of experience in foreign affairs and security issues, whereas McGarry's deep understanding and expertise of the issues is shown in his service during the Bartlet administration. This was also true of Cheney when he was selected to be Bush's running-mate, as he too lacked experience in these areas while Cheney served as Secretary of Defense in the administration of George H.W. Bush. McGarry's and Cheney's health was also a factor during their respective campaigns as both suffer from heart conditions.

Parallel to Obama Election

It should also be noted that Leo's selection as Santos' Vice President mirrored Barack Obama's selection of Senator Joseph Biden. Both were selected because of their experience, as compared to the Presidential candidate.



Military Career

Political Career


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   Ben ZaharianBill TrotterGerald Deloit
Secretary of Veterans Affairs   Weaver
White House Chief of Staff   Leo McGarryC.J. Cregg
Director of Central Intelligence   Rob KonradGeorge Rollie

Secretary of Labor
Leo McGarry
eventually Carl Reid
White House Chief of Staff
Leo McGarry
C.J. Cregg
John Hoynes
Democratic Vice Presidential candidate
Leo McGarry
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