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Larry Rutkowski
Larry Rutkowski
Rutkowski in 1979
25th President of Rio Blanco
In office
1 August 1972 – 1 August 1976
Prime Minister Delia Roughton
Preceded by Nigel Krzywydzieski
Succeeded by James DiLeo
Governor of the DCD
In office
1 August 1966 – 1 August 1972
President James DiLeo
Nigel Krzywydzieski
Preceded by Mark Lambton
Succeeded by Preston Skyes
Personal details
Born15 October 1929
Lakewood, Lanceton County, DCD
Died23 January 2016 (aged 86)
Central City, Gilpin County, DCD
Political partyProgressive (1959-1978)
Harmony (1963-2016)
ProfessionTeacher, politician
ReligionCatholic

Lawrence Andrew "Larry" Rutkowski (born Laurencjusz Andrzej Rutkowski; IPA: /rʌt'kaʊskɪ/, generally employed by the media, or /rʌt'kɒfskiː/, his personal pronunciation; Polish: /'lɛri rut'kɔfskʲi/; 15 October 1929–23 January 2016) was a Rioblancoan politician, 25th President of Rio Blanco. He was also the third and last Polish Rioblancoan politician to serve as President.

Early life and education

Laurencjusz Rutkowski was born on 15 October 1929, in an apartment in Lakewood, DCD, the third-eldest of the children born to Andrzej Rutkowski (1901–1966), a former Catholic parish priest based in Cieszyn, Silesia, and Ludmila Wieczorek (1902-1962), a worker in a small shop in Jasienica; in 1924, the two, tired of their employments, went to Gdańsk and embarked to a ship that would lead them to New York City, with a layover in Helsingør and Dover. While in Dover, Rutkowski's father and Wieczorek met and fell in love. Upon arrival to the United States, the couple quickly learned basic English and settled in various places, such as Naperville, Illinois and Wichita, Kansas, before reaching Lakewood. After settling in the city, the two had seven children:

  • Andrew Jr. "Andy" (born Andrzej Jr.; 1926–);
  • Tadeusz "Teddy" (1927–1939)
  • Lawrence Andrew "Larry" (born Laurencjusz Andrzej; 1929–2016)
  • Kenneth Jarosław "Kenny" (born Kazimierz; 1931–)
  • Katherine Ludmila "Kathy" (born Katarzyna; 1933–)
  • Helena (1934–)
  • Stanley (born Stanisław; 1936–)

Thanks to the strong Catholic background of the family, Rutkowski and his siblings were sent to a Catholic elementary school. During his time there, as written in his memoir Życie – Life and Presidency of Larry Rutkowski Larry was lively and talkative, posing many questions about various subjects, while his siblings were more introverted. He found his time in the school to be "over all positive". He later went to another Catholic institution and then to Bear Creek High School, before going to the Cherry Creek University, from which he would later graduate in 1956 with a PhD in History.

Political career

In 1959, after Larry and his siblings anglicized (or changed, as Kenneth and Stanley did) their names, Rutkowski and his elder brother Andy joined the Progressive Party, much to their father's dismay, because he was a staunch Home Guard supporter. For a living, Rutkowski used to work as a history teacher in several elementary schools in DCD, as well as a part-time Polish teacher.

His talkative trait soon brought him to the center of attention in the Denverite branch of the Party, allowing him to run in the Progressive primaries to select the party candidate to the governorship of the DCD in 1960, only to lose against incumbent Governor Mark Lambton by a narrow margin. Despite the defeat, Lambton selected him as the head of the District Department of Education, as well as Superintendent of the Lanco School District; Rutkowski held those two offices for six years, until he was elected Governor of the DCD.

His tenure focused on improving the situation regarding education in the District, by giving the Department of Education a larger budget, as well as working on freeways and commuter rails, as well as establishing the RTD.

Progressive primary of 1972

On 22 July 1971, Rutkowski announced that he would run for President in the next election, as a dual candidate for the Progressives and Harmony. While he ran virtually unopposed in the Harmony primary, he didn't fare well during the first phases of the Progressive primaries: his opponents included Senator Ed Munx from Las Mesas, former President Delia Roughton from El Paso and Ouray Governor Margaret Wiggins.

After a disappointing third place in Sioux and Sawatch, Rutkowski decided to take a more aggressive stance on various issues and developed a snarky behavior, earning the nickname "Snarkowski"; the move had him rise in popularity and allowed him to secure a close second place in El Paso. With his surge in the polls, he won the states of Baynice, Moffat, Salt Lake, Uinta and Yuma, as well as his home district. At the end of the primaries, he came first, at 65% of the Progressive voters; the second candidate was Roughton, with 23% of the votes.

1972 presidential election

Despite winning the Progressive primaries, Rutkowski was generally seen as a runner-up behind the Conservative candidate, incumbent President Nigel Krzywydzieski; the voices of a sure loss continued after Krzywydieski won the Conservative primary unopposed. Rutkowski was projected to win just the DCD, Ouray and Uinta; as the election day got closer, polls consistently gave a Krzywydieski lead, with a margin varying from 4% to 20%, which made Rutkowski consider the option of giving up.

Talks of him withdrawing from the race went on, until on 29 April 1972, when Krzywydieski was found to be involved in a corruption and blackmail scandal. The Conservatives, not wanting to put their reputation in jeopardy by fielding someone charged of corruption, nominated the second party candidate, Quintilius Hoxner; Hoxner was known for his nationalist and hard-line conservative stances on various issues, which discouraged the more moderate Conservative voters, with some chanting "Not My Candidate" in Conservative summits and voting for fringe candidates or erasing his name from the ballot.

This, along with the scandal, caused a relevant vote shift in Rutkowski's favor, thus changing the projection of the election, with Rutkowski leading the polls by at least 3%. The last poll before Election Day, published in July 24, gave a definite Rutkowski lead, by 6%. He easily reached the Cheesman-Boettcher Mansion by winning six states and 56% of the popular vote, while Krzywydieski settled for a $250,000 fine and a five-year ban from running for public political offices.

In office

His tenure consisted of what he was doing before his election: improving education and transportation, as well as focusing on making the party a hot spot for the small but increasing minorities. Another important act done by Rutkowski was the abolition of the XPDOL (Extreme or otherwise Potentially Dangerous Organizations Log); that caused the Conservatives to label him as a "Communist", owing to his left-wing stance in his party and his origins from Poland, which was, at the time of his presidency, a one-party Socialist regime. Rutkowski threatened to file a lawsuit against former President Bruce Carlson, among others, for libel, but ultimately decided not to.

After the Presidency

After his term was over in 1976, he retired from active politics, while still supporting Harmony. from 1985 to 1990, he actively funded Solidarność.

In 1991, Rutkowski and Krzywydzieski visited Poland for the first time since the fall of the regime. The two also went with Russell Gamkrelidze to visit Georgia in 1992, for the same occasion.

After the two trips, Rutkowski gradually faded from the Rioblancoan political life. He intervened sporadically at Harmony meetings until 1997, when he stated that he would retire from politics altogether, citing his atherosclerosis as the main reason behind the decision. He then moved to Central City, DCD and stayed there with his family.

Death

In the morning of 23 January 2016, Rutkowski was found unresponsive in his bedroom by his wife, who called the ambulance; after the paramedics tried to revive him in vain, he was pronounced dead the same day. The most accredited claim is that he died in his sleep at approximately 2:55am.

After the family announced the death of Rutkowski, his coffin was relocated to the Capitol for twenty-eight hours, before being relocated to Lakewood for the state funeral. Rutkowski's family, Stanmourne, Biedrzycki, Gamkrelidze, as well as Rose Holston (Krzywydieski's wife) and Jonas Carlson (Bruce's son), among others, attended the funeral.

His body currently lays in Lakewood, his birthplace, and his childhood home has been refurbished as a museum.

Personal life

Rutkowski married Amanda (née Keggs), a Progressive activist with Irish ancestry, in 1958. Together they had three children: Larry Jr. (1961–), Rose Ludmila (1963–) and Andrew III (1966–).

He was a hardcore baseball fan, with the Colorado Rockies being his favorite team; he regularly attended the World Series from 1955 to 2014. During his presidential term, he also considered the idea of establishing a separate Rioblancoan baseball league, but later dismissed it. In 1979, he played a baseball game with other celebrities to raise awareness of cancer and funds for the Rioblancoan Institute for Research and Treatment of Cancer (RIRTreC).

He was a devout Catholic; according to his autobiography, he regularly attended the Sunday mass since he was a small child, owing to the religious environment in his family. The book also states that if Rutkowski hadn't gone to CCU, he would have become a priest or attended the Rio Blanco Christian University.

Presidents of Rio Blanco
1. Lanceton • 2. Montrose Garner • 3. Vynn • 4. Pence • 5. Carlson I • 6. McDenn • 7. Stagmann • 8. Coxbourne Sr. • 9. Stanson • 10. Thornton • 11. Van Oyle • 12. Kaczorowski • 13. Caines • 14. LaGausse • 15. Stowley • 16. Coxbourne Jr. • 17. Collins • 18. Eldridge • 19. Munstell • 20. Giannizzari • 21. Carlson III • 22. Roughton • 23. DiLeo • 24. Krzywydzieski • 25. Rutkowski • 26. DiLeo § • 27. Radigan* • 28. Gamkrelidze • 29. Johnson • 30. Chambers • 31. Colston • 32. Sladger • 33. Stanmourne

§ James DiLeo died in charge. He was succeeded by Chris Klaudes as President pro tempore.
* Radigan was ousted from office. He was succeeded by Thomas Kirchenauer as President pro tempore.

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