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
2:00 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Texan's Final Campaign May Act As National Barometer

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 5:53 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
3:02 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 11:10 am

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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Business
2:02 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Dealt A Recent Defeat, Union Organizers Plot A Future In The South

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 5:58 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The United Auto Workers Union suffered a major defeat when a drive to represent workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee failed last week. Right now, leaders of the AFL-CIO are holding their winter meetings in Houston and that VW vote is a major topic.

NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea has more.

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Politics
4:04 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 11:43 am

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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It's All Politics
4:26 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

RNC Highlights Black History Month With Radio Ads

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is seen at the Jan. 24 RNC winter meeting in Washington. Priebus celebrates the achievements of black Republicans in a series of new radio ads designed to honor Black History Month.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 5:27 pm

Leaders of the Republican Party acknowledge they have a problem attracting minority voters — especially African-Americans, 93 percent of whom voted for President Obama in 2012, compared with just 6 percent for GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

That chasm is at the heart of a new initiative by the Republican National Committee during February. In its first-ever Black History Month ad campaign, the RNC has launched radio spots aimed at African-American audiences in a handful of cities: Washington, D.C.; Detroit, Cleveland and Atlanta.

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Politics
7:41 am
Sat January 25, 2014

Eyes On 2016, GOP Revisits The Rebranding

Mike Huckabee, left, sits with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus before Huckabee spoke at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Washington on Thursday,
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Sat January 25, 2014 10:14 am

Republican Party leaders gathered in Washington this week for their annual winter meetings. They approved new rules for the 2016 presidential primaries designed to create a more orderly path to the GOP nomination — and, the party hopes, to the White House.

But this week's meeting also provided an opportunity to see how far Republicans have come in an effort begun a year ago to reach out to new voters — especially young people, minorities and women.

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Politics
4:04 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 5:29 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
2:44 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 5:19 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
2:34 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 8:21 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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Politics
4:12 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Rubio Questions LBJ's Legacy On Poverty

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 8:29 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We've been marking the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty from a number of perspectives. Now, the Republican take. Republicans have long been critical of Lyndon Johnson's expansive approach to a federal safety net. Today, the Republican senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, proposed what he says is a better way forward. His way? Take power away from Washington and give it to the states. NPR's Don Gonyea is here to tell us more. And, Don, first, give us some context. What was the setting for Senator Rubio's speech?

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It's All Politics
2:47 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Amid Declining Popularity, The Tea Party Prepares To Fight

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) greets supporters during a tea party rally in front of the U.S. Capitol in June. Paul was a rising star in the tea party movement this year, filibustering a CIA nomination in March.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 6:02 pm

It's easy to forget that the tea party movement is still less than 5 years old. Its successes include the 2010 midterm elections, when it helped the GOP win back the U.S. House.

It was once again a noisy and resurgent player in American politics in 2013. But that doesn't mean it was a year of victories: The movement's campaign to repeal Obamacare failed, and public approval hit near-record lows after the tea party forced a partial government shutdown. Even tea party events aren't as large as they once were.

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20 Years Of NAFTA
3:28 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 Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

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
2:34 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

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

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 8:45 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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Opinion
4:53 pm
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 4:43 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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History
5:45 am
Sat November 16, 2013

How JFK Fathered The Modern Presidential Campaign

John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, campaign in New York in 1960.
AP

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 1:33 pm

When John F. Kennedy began his run for the White House more than 50 years ago, there was plenty of excitement and anticipation. He was energetic, handsome and from a famous Boston political family.

But his candidacy was far from a sure bet. At the time, few would have predicted the lasting impact his campaign would have on every election to follow.

Recognizing The Power Of TV

Kennedy made the most of his youth and novelty, says historian Robert Dallek, author of several books about JFK.

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Commentary
3:23 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 4:55 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
10:07 am
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 3:26 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
2:13 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Rep. Shuster To Face Tea Party Challenger Next Year

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 10:07 am

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
2:43 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 8:09 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
2:03 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 11:28 am

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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Politics
3:03 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

How The Shutdown Is Playing In Conservative Media

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 9:38 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

As Democrats and Republicans continue to blame each other for being unwilling to negotiate, a small group of House conservatives have driven the debate in Washington. Even though polls show the public is not happy about the government shutdown, conservative media outlets have provided plenty of support for Republicans on Capitol Hill. And they've rallied their community through TV, the radio and social media. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports.

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It's All Politics
3:33 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 5:56 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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It's All Politics
3:54 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Tea Party Strains GOP's Ties To Big Business

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks at a Sept. 10 Capitol Hill rally against Obamacare.
Drew Angerer Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 4:10 pm

Is the GOP still the "party of business"?

With the party's long-standing and ongoing push for lower taxes and fewer regulations — both in Washington and in state legislatures — Republicans can reasonably make that claim.

Yet some of the congressional Republican rhetoric in the battle over a continuing resolution, the debt ceiling and defunding Obamacare makes it clear that there's a significant amount of tension between the party and the business community.

Much of the strong language comes from the Tea Party and its friends on Capitol Hill.

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Politics
3:12 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.

Politics
3:11 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Tea Party Won't Let Congress Forget Obamacare Issues

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 5:08 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. Congress did not expect to spend September debating Syria. Many Republicans, instead, were planning battles over the budget and over the healthcare law that's about to take affect. Tea Party activists are going ahead with meetings on their issues. One event comes in Washington D.C. today. NPR's Don Gonyea has been talking with activists.

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News
2:49 pm
Sun July 14, 2013

The Civil Rights Stand Of A Young Gerald Ford

President Gerald Ford finishes giving a speech on Jan. 13, 1975. Ford was born 100 years ago Sunday.
Marion S. Trikosko Courtesy of Library of Congress

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 4:54 pm

President Gerald R. Ford, the only American to serve as both vice president and president without ever being elected to either office, was born 100 years ago Sunday.

Ford will be remembered for his role in the turbulent post-Watergate era. But a little-known story from his college days might also serve to define Ford's character.

The Gerald Ford We Know

In 1973, Ford was a congressman from Grand Rapids, Mich., who had risen through the ranks to become House minority leader. In those days before C-SPAN, Ford was barely known to most Americans.

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It's All Politics
2:06 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Obama Campaigners Try To Get Texas Fired Up For Democrats

Battleground Texas staff members and volunteers work around a table in a small backroom of the Travis County Democratic Office in Austin on April 24. Battleground Texas is an effort by veterans of the Obama campaign to take what they learned electing and re-electing a president and try to turn Texas blue.
Rodolfo Gonzalez MCT/Landov

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 6:12 pm

All this week, NPR is taking a look at the demographic changes that could reshape the political landscape in Texas over the next decade — and what that could mean for the rest of the country.

For most of the 20th century, Texas was a stronghold for Democrats. But Republicans have dominated the state for decades now.

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Politics
2:45 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Texas Democrats See Opportunity In Changing Demographics

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 6:36 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

All week, we are looking at demographic changes in the currently very red, very Republican Lone Star state. Democrats hope the growing size and potential voting clout of the Latin population will turn Texas blue.

Whether that happens or not, the Texas Democratic Party already bears little resemblance to what it looked like when it last dominated Texas politics decades ago.

NPR's Don Gonyea brings us the latest in our series Texas 2020.

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It's All Politics
3:25 am
Sat June 8, 2013

WWII Vets Have All But Vanished From The Halls Of Congress

Military pallbearers carry the coffin of the late New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg into the Senate chamber on Thursday. He was the only remaining World War II veteran in the Senate.
Douglas Graham AP

Originally published on Sun June 9, 2013 3:39 am

Sen. Frank Lautenberg was buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday. There was a steady rain. Soldiers fired rifle volleys, a bugler played taps and mourners paid their final respects.

The New Jersey Democrat was 89 when he died this week — and his death marked a somber milestone.

For the first time since the end of World War II, there are no veterans of that war in the U.S. Senate. Lautenberg had been the only one remaining.

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Politics
1:35 am
Wed May 15, 2013

IRS Inquiries Crossed The Line, Tea Party Groups Say

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 7:51 am

Tea Party activists are calling for a full investigation, and possibly lawsuits, following revelations that the Internal Revenue Service flagged so-called patriot groups for extra scrutiny in applications for federal tax-exempt status.

Among those claiming unjust and unconstitutional targeting by the IRS is a group called TheTeaParty.net, which bills itself as the largest grass-roots conservative Tea Party organization in the country.

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