Don Gonyea

Although Don Gonyea is a NPR National Political Correspondent based in Washington, D.C., he spends much of his time traveling throughout the United States covering campaigns, elections, and the political climate throughout the country. His reports can be heard on all NPR programs and at NPR.org.

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Gonyea chronicled the controversial election and the ensuing legal recount battles in the courts. At the same time George W. Bush moved into the White House in 2001, Gonyea started as NPR's White House Correspondent. He was at the White House on the morning of September 11, 2001, providing live reports following the evacuation of the building.

As White House correspondent, Gonyea covered the Bush administration's prosecution of wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq and during the 2004 campaign he traveled with President Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry. In November 2006, Gonyea co-anchored NPR's coverage of historic elections when Democrats captured control of both houses of the US Congress. In 2008, Gonyea was the lead reporter covering the entire Obama presidential campaign for NPR, from the Iowa caucuses to victory night in Chicago. He was also there when candidate Obama visited the Middle East and Europe. He continued covering the White House and President Barack Obama until spring 2010, when he moved into his current position.

Gonyea has filed stories from around the globe, including Moscow, Beijing, London, Islamabad, Doha, Budapest, Seoul, San Salvador, and Hanoi. He attended President Bush's first ever meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Slovenia in 2001, and subsequent, at times testy meetings between the two leaders in St. Petersburg, Shanghai and Bratislava. He also covered Mr.Obama's first trip overseas as president.

In 1986, Gonyea got his start at NPR reporting from Detroit on labor unions and the automobile industry. He spent countless hours on picket lines and in union halls covering strikes, including numerous lengthy work stoppages at GM in the late 1990s. Gonyea also reported on the development of alternative fuel and hybrid-powered automobiles, Dr. Jack Kevorkian's assisted-suicide crusade, and the 1999 closing of Detroit's classic Tiger Stadium — the ballpark of his youth.

Over the years Gonyea has contributed to PBS's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, the BBC, CBC, AP Radio, and the Columbia Journalism Review. He periodically teaches college journalism courses.

Gonyea has won numerous national and state awards for his reporting. He was part of the team that earned NPR a 2000 George Foster Peabody Award for the All Things Considered series "Lost & Found Sound."

A native of Monroe, Michigan, Gonyea is an honors graduate of Michigan State University.

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Politics
5:11 am
Mon June 2, 2014

Mitt Romney Emerges As A Player In Midterm Elections

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 9:43 am

The ex-presidential candidate is on the campaign trail, picking winners in a number of key primaries. He says his goal is to help the GOP have a great 2014, including seizing control of the Senate.

It's All Politics
3:30 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Former Obama Campaigner Tries Running For Himself In Iowa

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 9:41 am

Could President Obama one day motivate future generations to run for office, the way that John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan have? It's too early to tell if a trend will take hold, but there is at least one key Obama campaign veteran now running for statewide office.

Brad Anderson was the spokesman for Obama's 2008 Iowa campaign. Four years later, he ran the president's entire Iowa operation. Now Anderson is running for Iowa secretary of state.

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Politics
6:02 am
Wed May 21, 2014

In Kentucky, McConnell Wins Big Over Tea Party Candidate

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 8:06 am

Sen. Mitch McConnell is seeking a sixth term, and he easily beat a Tea Party challenger in Tuesday's primary. In November, he faces Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's secretary of state.

Politics
6:06 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Gaffe Breathes New Life Into Iowa Senate Race

Iowa Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst debates fellow U.S. Senate candidate Mark Jacobs, a retired CEO, in April.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 9:04 pm

This year, Iowa will elect a new U.S. senator, thanks to the retirement of five-term Democrat Tom Harkin.

For a time, this was a seat Democrats didn't think they needed to worry about; Rep. Bruce Braley was considered the favorite to win the seat in November.

Thanks to a serious gaffe, though, the seat looks to be in play. Now, five Republican hopefuls, none well-known statewide, are all racing toward the June primary.

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Politics
4:22 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Politicians Get Personal With Memorable Early Campaign Ads

Dr. Monica Wehby, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Oregon, appears in the much-talked-about campaign ad "Trust."
Dr. Monica Wehby Senate campaign

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 7:15 pm

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Race
6:44 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Obama, Bush Mark Passage Of 1964 Civil Rights Act

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 7:37 am

Barack Obama and George W. Bush, two U.S. presidents with little in common in terms of policy, personal style and politics, each paid tribute to the legacy of President Lyndon Johnson.

Politics
5:28 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

For Political Conventions, Another Balloon Bursts

President Obama stands on stage with Vice President Biden and their families after accepting the party nomination during the final day of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 7:34 pm

There's news today about the 2016 presidential campaign that has nothing to do with the growing list of would-be candidates with White House aspirations.

It's about the big nominating conventions the Democrats and Republicans hold every four years. Legislation the president signed Thursday afternoon means those huge political extravaganzas will no longer receive millions of dollars in taxpayer support. It's not the only change that's likely for conventions.

Let's start with a little time travel:

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Politics
11:08 am
Sat March 8, 2014

CPAC Is A Siren Call To GOP Presidential Hopefuls

At CPAC this year, even Sen. Rand Paul's cardboard cutout was drawing attention. The Kentucky lawmaker was leading in the straw poll among attendees Friday.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA/Landov

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 2:00 pm

Start with a big ballroom at a resort hotel just outside D.C. Add thousands of conservative activists. Stir in hundreds of political journalists, and you've got an irresistible attraction for any Republican presidential hopeful.

For those with their eye on the Oval Office, it's also an early audition before a key audience.

It's the annual Conservative Political Action Conference — CPAC for short — where there's always talk of the next presidential election. This year as many as 10 possible 2016 candidates were invited to speak during the three-day event.

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Politics
5:17 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul To Address Annual CPAC Meeting

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks to reporters in front of federal court in Washington on Feb. 12.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 12:36 pm

It is one of those primary tenets of the Republican party: a strong, robust, well-funded military and the willingness to deploy it are a critical part of national security.

But Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who speaks to activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday, has long felt it's time to re-examine that approach.

In less than four years in the Senate, Paul has emerged as a prominent new face of the GOP and a contender for the 2016 presidential nomination. But his libertarian philosophy sets him apart from the rest of the field.

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Politics
4:01 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Dingell Dynasty Could Continue In Michigan

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 10:35 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

87-year-old John Dingell, the longest-serving member in the history of Congress, retires at the end of his current term. When he goes, another Dingell hopes to win his seat. Today, in the city of Dearborn, in the heart of Michigan's 12th district, Debbie Dingell, the congressman's wife, announced her candidacy. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports.

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Politics
4:05 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Texan's Final Campaign May Act As National Barometer

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 7:53 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In northeast Texas, from the Dallas suburbs to Texarkana, Republican Ralph Hall is seeking an 18th term in Congress. Hall is 90 years old and the oldest member of Congress. At a time of deep voter anger with Washington, Hall's long incumbency and his age have drawn a crowded field of primary challengers. He's assuring his constituents that it will be his last campaign, but if there's an anti-incumbent wave building, his east Texas district may be an early barometer.

NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports.

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Politics
5:02 am
Wed February 19, 2014

AFL-CIO's Trumka: Keep VW Union Vote In Perspective

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations President Richard Trumka addresses members during the quadrennial AFL-CIO convention at Los Angeles Convention Center in Sept. 2013.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 1:10 pm

When workers at a Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga narrowly rejected the United Auto Workers in a recent vote on whether to unionize, it was a stinging setback for a labor movement looking for a big organizing victory in a Southern state.

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Politics
6:25 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Gov. Christie Promotes GOP Despite Scandal At Home In N.J.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks to the Economic Club of Chicago on Tuesday. Christie was in town to raise money for the Republican Governors Association.
PAUL BEATY AP

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 12:19 pm

Despite ongoing investigations into a scandal over lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie continues to travel the country as head of the Republican Governors Association. He's promoting the GOP agenda and raising money for this year's elections but compared to Christie's usual style, it's been a low key tour — no media interviews and very few photos ops with smiling candidates.

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Politics
6:04 am
Sat February 8, 2014

Bidding Starts Early For Site Of Obama's Future Library

Presidents past and present were on hand for the opening ceremony for the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas in April 2013.
Kevork Djansezian AP

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 1:43 pm

President Obama doesn't leave office until January of 2017, but already the competition has begun for the right to host his presidential library and museum.

A new foundation has been set up to raise money and to begin the site selection process, and there are already bids in the works from Chicago, Honolulu and elsewhere.

A Tradition Of Archives

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Politics
6:19 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

An Unconventional Contender Emerges As GOP Ponders 2016 Convention

Visitors crowd the Las Vegas Strip to celebrate the new year.
Glenn Pinkerton AP

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 7:29 pm

Every four years a handful of cities battle to host the big nominating conventions for the major political parties. The competition for 2016 has already begun, with a surprising and aggressive player making a bid for the Republican National Convention: Las Vegas.

Certainly it's a place that knows how to host a big convention, but for the GOP to give Vegas the nod, the party will have to look past the city's well-earned reputation as "Sin City."

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Politics
5:09 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Minimum Wage Fight Takes Shape Across The Map

Trish Gallagher holds a sign for passing motorists to read during a demonstration in support of a higher minimum wage near a Burger King in Boston on Dec. 5. Massachusetts is one of several states considering a minimum wage ballot measure.
BRIAN SNYDER Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:19 pm

You never know where you might find a volunteer with a clipboard looking for signatures trying to get a voter referendum on the local ballot – like Ed Flanagan in the town of North Pole, Alaska.

"I'm out in what's called the North Pole transfer station. This facility has about 50 metal dumpsters arranged in a fenced area. Folks back up and throw their household trash in there. This is a very busy place," he says.

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Politics
4:34 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Sen. Rubio Proposes States Fight Poverty With Federal Funds

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida delivers a speech on reforming antipoverty programs on the 50th Anniversary of President Johnson's declaration of the "War on Poverty."
Kevin Dietsch UPI/Landov

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 10:21 am

It was a two-step move for Republicans at the Capitol Wednesday: to both praise the sentiment of the War on Poverty – but also to critique it.

"We are here to mark the 50th anniversary of President Johnson's declaration of the War on Poverty," said Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida. "And while this war may have been launched with the best of intentions, it's clear we're now engaged in a battle for attrition."

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20 Years Of NAFTA
5:28 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

What Has NAFTA Meant For Workers? That Debate's Still Raging

An auto worker tightens bolts on a Focus at a Ford plant in Michigan in October. Labor unions predicted in 1993 that NAFTA would send many U.S. manufacturing jobs to Mexico, and they continue to argue that the pact prompted a race to the bottom for workers.
Mira Oberman AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:31 am

Two decades ago, the strongest critics of the North American Free Trade Agreement were members of labor unions. They warned that the trade deal would mean the loss of manufacturing jobs to Mexico and lower wages for U.S. workers.

Today, 20 years since NAFTA's passage, unions feel as strongly as ever that the deal was a bad idea.

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Politics
4:34 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Without Opponent, Sen. Kay Hagan Already Faces Re-Election Fight

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 10:45 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In North Carolina, the ads are starting early - the political ads, that is. Republicans are setting their sights on defeating first-term Democrat Kay Hagan. Senator Hagan's GOP opponent won't be known until the spring but her support for President Obama and the Affordable Care Act has already hurt her with voters. She's also being targeted by outside groups, spending millions of dollars hoping to unseat her. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports.

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Around the Nation
5:25 am
Fri December 6, 2013

A Frustrating Year For Immigration Activists

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 10:49 am

At the start of the year there was widespread expectation among Latinos that 2013 would bring with it a new immigration law. That hasn't happened and immigration activists in North Carolina are frustrated.

Politics
4:32 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Rep. Issa Takes Anti-Obamacare Campaign To The States

Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, planned to hold at least four field hearings on the Affordable Care Act, which he blames for increased health insurance prices.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 6:56 pm

The troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act has given the GOP an opportunity to keep its attacks on the law alive.

On Monday, Republicans held the second of at least four planned hearings that Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has said will focus on health insurance price increases he blames on the Affordable Care Act.

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Opinion
7:30 am
Sat November 16, 2013

2016 Polling Comes Too Soon For This Political Reporter

Supporters may be "Ready for Hillary," but NPR political reporter Don Gonyea isn't.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 6:43 pm

The email landed in my inbox at 7:01 Tuesday morning.

The subject line read, "NBC News Poll: Christie Trails Clinton In Hypothetical 2016 Match-Up, Faces Divided GOP."

My reaction when I got this breaking news with my first cup of coffee? A big, nonverbal, heavy sigh.

The headline correctly states that this is a "hypothetical" matchup. Oh, and if you are fan of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — not to worry. A different poll came out this week as well. That one has him leading Hillary Clinton 43-42. Within the margin of error, of course.

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Around the Nation
7:14 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Five Things That Have Gone The Way Of Blockbuster

Originally published on Sat November 9, 2013 11:24 am

Transcript

DON GONYEA, HOST:

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Commentary
5:23 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Many Rooting For Down-On-Its-Luck Detroit And Its New Mayor

Mayor-elect Mike Duggan speaks at his election night celebration in Detroit on Tuesday.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Sat November 9, 2013 6:55 pm

Detroit is a place where I worked for many years as a journalist, where I absorbed the town's rich automotive, labor and civil rights history, where I sat in blues clubs and watched baseball from the upper deck of old Tiger Stadium.

It's a place that I really think of as home.

Detroit elected a new mayor this week.

He is 55-year-old Mike Duggan, a longtime county official, and later a successful CEO of the region's leading medical center.

But one might reasonably ask why someone — anyone — would want the job of mayor of Detroit.

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Politics
12:07 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Veteran Pennsylvania Congressman Can't Escape GOP Civil War

From left, Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., walk to the floor of the House for the final series of votes on a bill to fund the government, in Washington on Sept. 28.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 5:26 pm

At 7 a.m. on a recent weekday morning, the Bedford Diner, in Bedford, Pa., is jumping.

Way in the back, some tables have been pushed together for a weekly prayer breakfast that's really a gathering of old friends — all military veterans, some of whom are retired. Art Halvorson, a 58-year-old regular here, is a real estate developer, a former career coast guard pilot and now a Tea Party-backed candidate going after seven-term Rep. Bill Shuster in next year's Republican primary.

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Politics
4:13 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Rep. Shuster To Face Tea Party Challenger Next Year

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 12:07 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, during the government shutdown, many House Republicans said the policy was unwise, but persisted for weeks in voting with their speaker, John Boehner. One reason was party loyalty. Another reason, according to analysts, was fear. Lawmakers did not want to run the risk of a challenge in a Republican primary from candidates saying they weren't trying hard enough.

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Politics
4:43 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Tea Party Activist: It Was Worth 'Getting In The Ring'

Sal Russo of the Tea Party Express speaks at the National Press Club in 2011. Russo predicts the Tea Party will be re-energized for the 2014 midterm elections.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 10:09 pm

It's been a tough week for the Tea Party and its supporters in Congress. The Affordable Care Act survived the Capitol Hill standoff largely untouched. President Obama and the Democrats stared them down and won. And fights with establishment Republicans revealed the depth of division within the GOP.

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Politics
4:03 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Obamacare Fight Leads Sen. Roberts To Turn Against Old Friend Sebelius

Kathleen Sebelius stands with Sen. Pat Roberts (right), R-Kan., and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole in 2009.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 1:28 pm

This month's government shutdown grew out of Republicans' insistence on a budget that defunded the Affordable Care Act.

That didn't happen, but Republicans still detest the law — and now there's a movement underway to oust Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

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It's All Politics
5:39 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

GOP Establishment Grapples With A Tea Party That Won't Budge

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., is among the Republicans who want to pass a spending bill not tied to defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 7:56 pm

The old line in Washington is that the "establishment" controls everything.

But the fights that have resulted in the government shutdown have turned that cliche upside down.

This time, it's the Tea Party and its allies in Congress calling the shots. The "establishment" — on Capitol Hill and in the business community — has so far been on the outs.

You can hear the frustration in the voice of 11-term Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., as he runs a gantlet of reporters at the Capitol.

"I'm just more concerned about there not being a clean CR," he says amid the hubbub.

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Politics
5:12 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Not All Republicans Embrace Big Business All The Time

The Republican Party in the past has had a close relationship with Wall Street and big business. But lately there's growing tension and disagreement as some Republicans in Congress consider a possible government shutdown. The Tea Party seems to have the strongest criticism of big business.

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