Penguins Prez Has History in D.C.
By Bog friend and Post Metro reporter Susan Kinzie
In playoff hockey, David Morehouse said, every night is like election night.
He should know: He's a veteran of Washington politics, who went from a volunteer driver in Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign to a senior advisor in John Kerry's. He's had his heart-stopping moments, too; he's the guy who stopped Al Gore from conceding on election night in 2000.
Now he's the president of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who's been back in Washington for a different kind of race this month.
Like a lot of people, Morehouse fell into politics. After high school in Pittsburgh, he went to work as a welder. Then he got hit with a steel beam and, sidelined by a serious head injury, began taking classes. "Knocked some sense into me," Morehouse, who's 48 now, said.
He went to hear Clinton give a speech, volunteered for the campaign, and got swept into advance work setting up events on the road. After the election he worked at the White House, studied public policy in graduate school, worked on further political campaigns.
Morehouse was in the motorcade election night 2000 when he got a page telling him to stop Gore. The networks had declared George W. Bush the winner, and the candidate and the Secret Service agents were walking to the stage. Gore told him he wouldn't wait, he had already told the governor he was going to concede. "I stood in front of the stairs and said, 'You have to go to hold, the numbers were wrong in Florida.' " Morehouse said. "That was it. The beginning of the recount saga."
More often, like playoff runs, campaigns end in an instant. After Kerry lost in 2004, Morehouse went from 18-hour days seven days a week and hundreds of e-mails every hour or so to [ellip] nothing. He called AT&T, convinced that his Blackberry had stopped working. "It's almost like a severed limb," he said. "I could feel it vibrating all day long."
It was about then that a friend asked him to run another kind of campaign, pitching a new arena for Pittsburgh. The Penguins came to the city when he was seven years old, and he used to sneak into the Igloo to watch games as a kid.
They won that race - the new arena is to open in 2010 - and the team hired him as president.
The one time he really missed politics this past year, he said, was the moment after the presidential race was declared, just before Obama came out to address the crowd in Chicago. "I was there with Gore, I was there with Kerry," Morehouse said. "It would have been nice to have been there, when he was preparing to speak."
Instead he's in Pittsburgh building the base, just like they would in any campaign, in this case helped by two of the best young players in the league.
In politics he won one, lost one. Gore-Bush they tied, he said. "We lost in the shootout," he joked. "But we didn't get the point."
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