Matt Santos was born in St. Joseph's Hospital in Houston, Texas in 1961. One of seven children born to Luis Santos and Marita Santos, Matt grew up in the Second Ward – the oldest Mexican-American neighborhood in Houston and home to six generations of the Santos family. Surrounded by his extended family, Matt was taught the value of kinship, of responsibility and service, and of the Roman Catholic faith – lessons he carries with him every day. As a young boy in 1968, he listened to Martin Luther King on the radio, learning about racial justice.
From the time he was able to add and subtract, Matt worked at his uncle's small hardware shop in the East End. It was a family business, and Matt fully expected to work there after graduation. But as he was entering his senior year at Austin High School, Matt met Sergeant Rick Alvarez, a US Marine Corps recruiter who was a permanent fixture on the local basketball court.
His brother, Jorge, was often out of work and fathered a child with Anita Morales, a clerk in Houston City Hall, leading Matt and Helen to step in. Matthew Santos is married to Helen Santos and together they have two young children, Peter and Miranda - they married in 1991.
Marine Corps and city politics
The Marines seemed like a good option for Matt, and his recruiter encouraged him to aim higher than regular enlistment. He applied for admission to the Naval Academy in Annapolis. To secure a nomination for the Academy, Matt visited the Houston office of his Texas 18th District Congressman. He immediately took an interest in the politics, federal and local, that shaped his community. He knew, at that point, that he had found his calling.
After four years in the Academy, he graduated as a Marine Second Lieutenant, with a degree in engineering. He served his country as a fighter pilot in the Gulf War, flying off aircraft carriers and seeing combat. He then joined the Marine Reserves, where he continued drilling and training for thirteen years.
But Matt could not ignore the enticement of the political world he had glimpsed years before. He returned to Houston, where he quickly immersed himself in community service. Elected to Houston City Council, Matt focused on revitalization projects for the Second Ward, where his extended family still lived. He founded a neighborhood watch program, and oversaw the rebuilding of several recreational facilities. He persuaded Helen to support his first bid for City Council saying "come on, it'll be an adventure".
Two years later, Matthew Santos was elected Mayor of Houston - the first Hispanic mayor the city had seen. Under his guidance, the city opened eight new health clinics to serve Houston's families and created a new housing assistance program to make rent and bills more affordable for the city's two million residents. As mayor he frequently lobbied local Congressman Tim Fields (D-TX 29th) for federal aid. As executive of America's fourth-largest city, and one of its most diverse, Santos built coalitions across racial and religious lines and secured re-election to a second two-year term.
During his time as an F/A-18 pilot in the Marine Corps he earned the call-sign "Badger" which was revealed during the episode 'The Mommy Problem' in Season 7. As of 2006, Santos had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (O-5). The Marine Commandant who organised Santos' reserve service was Santos' commanding officer in the Gulf. At Annapolis Santos played football as a wideout, until he injured his knee. When he left the Marines in 1993, Santos was offered a job in the Department of Defense, but he failed a required FBI background check because friends and neighbours in his disaffected Houston neighbourhood were reluctant to speak to "the feds" - this experience inspired him to enter politics and would later drive his presidential run.
After four years at the helm of Houston, Matt was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2000 midterm elections, and and won reelection twice. In 2005, he was appointed to the influential Ways and Means Committee. He had previously served on the House Administration Committee ("the Siberia of committees") with Bob Russell, before Russell was appointed to the vice presidency by Bartlet.
When he entered the House of Representatives, Matt Santos wanted to improve the daily lives of his 18th district constituents, and the lives of all Americans who, like him, needed some encouragement to succeed. During his tenure, he helped provide more education grants to low-income college students, and health insurance for millions of children. On the Ways and Means Committee, he led the movement for temporary assistance for needy families, and worked diligently on job creation and worker assistance for hardworking Americans.
Matt never forgot the lessons he learned as a young man in Houston – lessons in faith and perseverance that have fortified him through his political and lifelong journey. He sought to serve the American people as he has served his family, his country, Houston and the 18th District of Texas. Within the first 3 years in the House, Santos passed three bills which ensured the safety and well being of poorer elderly citizens and children in the United States. He also got a bill to committee which suggested that the carbon emissions produced by the United States are having a severe impact on the rate of global warming.
Santos also voted for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in committee as a member of Ways and Means, but later voted against it on the House floor due to special interest amendments he opposed. Republicans accused him of voting for "higher taxes 47 times", chiefly due to his committee votes against various Republican tax cut amendments. He co-sponsored a "doomed" immigration reform package with Senator Arnold Vinick in 2004, and he voted with other pro-choice Democrats against Republican bills to ban partial-birth abortion and impose parental consent laws. In Congress, Santos sponsored the 'stand by your ad' provision for election advertising, in an attempt to clean up politics.
In 2005, it was speculated that Santos might be a good Democratic candidate for Governor of Texas, which in term might enable him to eventually run for the presidency.
After Santos passed a bipartisan Patients Bill of Rights with Congressman Strickman (R) in late 2005, Josh Lyman conceived the idea of a Santos presidential campaign. He believed that Congressman Santos would be a better candidate than incumbent Vice President Bob Russell or former Vice President and Texas Senator John Hoynes. While initially hesitant to run for office, Matt Santos decided to make his run for office on the condition that Josh would run his campaign.
While in the first stage of the campaign, Santos went to New Hampshire and made his first policy proposal - an extended school year. Though Santos started his campaign in obscurity, the Congressman managed to increase his name recognition by filming a live campaign commercial, which generated free media throughout the state. After finishing third in New Hampshire with 19% of the vote and winning the Arizona and New Mexico primaries, Santos defeated Russell and a sex scandal-hit Hoynes in California on Super Tuesday. This effectively made him the alternative to Russell and Santos subsequently gained momentum, winning primaries in a number of late "big states" including Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois and New Jersey. This left him with 1599 delegates to Russell's 1677 (with Hoynes trailing on 956).
By the time of the deadlocked Democratic Convention, the party was without a nominee, with Santos rejecting a VP offer from Russell against the advice of Josh Lyman and party elders. Governor Eric Baker stood and nearly seized the nomination from Santos and Russell. By the last day of the Democratic Convention, President Bartlet and Leo McGarry had encouraged Santos to drop out many times. But instead of giving his concession speech, Santos encouraged the delegates to make a choice on their own. Inspired by the Congressman's speech, President Bartlet decided to convince the Teachers' Unions to give their delegates to the Texas Congressman. This allowed Matt Santos to win the nomination - after Baker declined for family reasons, Santos chose former Secretary of Labor and White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry as his running mate.
Santos and McGarry faced California Senator Arnold Vinick and his VP nominee West Virginia Governor Ray Sullivan in the General Election. Though Santos was initially 7 to 9 points behind in the polls, an accident at a California nuclear plant increased the public's distrust of Vinick, who had long fought for nuclear power. After a close race that included McGarry's death on Election Day, Santos and McGarry won the election by a margin of 10,000 votes, and a 272-266 edge in the Electoral College.
Matthew Santos took office on January 20, 2007. Immediately upon assuming the office, he was faced with the Kazakhstan crisis when the Joints Chiefs requested putting an additional 10,000 troops in peacekeeping forces between the Russian and Chinese forces, as well as the potential political fallout from President Bartlet's last-minute pardon for Toby Ziegler over the shuttle leak scandal. He also nominated Arnold Vinick as his Secretary of State and Eric Baker as his new vice president. His priority legislation for the first 100 days was a major education reform bill, along with a lobbying reform bill (though the latter was strongly opposed by incoming Democratic House Speaker Mark B. Sellner).
Even though West Wing did not come back for a eight season and the lives of the characters are not followed after Tomorrow, Santos would have remained President until 2011 unless he was re-elected for a second term, in which case he would remain president until 2015.
- 1979 : High School diploma - Austin High School
- 1983 : Engineering degree - United States Naval Academy (graduated valedictorian)
- 1971-1979 : Worked at his uncle's hardware shop
- 1983-1993 : Pilot in the United States Marine Corps
- 1993-2007 : Pilot in the United States Marine Corps Reserve
- 1994-1996 : Councilman on Houston City Council
- 1996-2000 : Mayor of Houston
- 2001-2007 : US Representative for Texas' 18th District
- 2007-?: President of the United States
- Santos speaks three languages (English, Spanish and one other) and plays the clarinet
- Santos is a gun owner, with three firearms at home
- Santos/McGarry for a Brighter America
|Democratic Party Presidential Candidate
|President of the United States
|Presidents of the United States|
|Washington 〉J. Adams 〉Jefferson 〉Madison 〉J.Q. Adams 〉Jackson 〉W. Harrison 〉Polk 〉Pierce 〉Buchanan 〉Lincoln 〉A. Johnson 〉Grant 〉Hayes 〉B. Harrison 〉McKinley 〉T. Roosevelt 〉Taft 〉Wilson 〉Harding 〉Coolidge 〉Hoover 〉F. Roosevelt 〉Truman 〉Eisenhower 〉Kennedy 〉L. Johnson 〉Nixon 〉Newman 〉Lassiter 〉Bartlet (Walken) • Santos|
See Also: Monroe — Ford • Carter • Reagan • G.H.W. Bush • Clinton • G.W. Bush
- The Mommy Problem, The Debate
- La Palabra
- Message of the Week
- King Corn
- The Al Smith Dinner
- "They love him in Houston, maybe he'll run for governor...Term or two as governor, he can come back and run for the big chair" - Will Bailey, Liftoff
- Welcome To Wherever You Are