9 fun things history will tie to Todd Platts

This was the moment that launched six terms. Todd and Leslie Platts listen to challenger Al Masland as he concedes the Republican primary race in the year 2000. Platts went on to win the November election over a Democratic opponent. That’s campaign manager Bryan Tate, at right, listening in. Also: ’10 stories capture the lives and times of U.S. congressmen from York County, Pa.’

Retiring U.S. Congressman Todd Platts will be remembered  for accomplishments in many matters of state and statesmanship.

There’s a pretty good discussion of that in the story: ‘What did Platts achieve? A look at his record, how others see him,’ and the editorial: ‘Todd Platts: Last of a breed.’

But there’s got to be some fun here, too, or just interesting and meaningful stuff that may be just as much remembered by historians 100 years from now.

There are, of course, such things, as cited in recent York Daily Record/Sunday News coverage, including the story: “Platts’ retirement: To many, a bummer; others give a thumbs-up.”

1. Platts’ door-to-door campaign approach included handing out samples of his mother’s n0w-famous fudge. Indeed, Platts watched George W. Bush eat some of Babs Platts’ specialty, giving her proof that she makes fudge fit for a president. (Peanut butter marshmallow, she says, is the best.)

2. Babs Platts works 14 hours a day as a parking garage attendant in York. And she attends barbecues with U.S. presidents.

3. This tweet firmly plants Platts in York County soil, where nicknames outpace given names: “Things I learned from Todd Platts’ retirement statement: His parents’ names, Dutch & Babs.”

4. Just a good story: In June of 2001,  Platts’ father died. President George W. Bush, who had met Dutch Platts, expressed his condolences to the freshman congressman.

Platts later thought about that conversation with the president.

“His father had grown up in a house in York during the Great Depression,” the Daily Record/Sunday News reported. “He wasn’t rich or famous. But after he died, a U.S. president was talking about him.”

“It only happens in America,” Platts told the newspaper. “We are the land of opportunity.”

5. Esquire Magazine named Platts among the 10 best members of Congress: “The earnest Jimmy Stewart rectitude of Congressman Platts is truly something to behold. He manages to be straitlaced in the extreme without being a moralist, which is harder than it sounds.”

6. Roll Call complimented him as chair of its “Obscure Caucus” – congressmen who avoid headlines. A Tweet from Roll Call after he said he was retiring: “Rep. Todd Platts, who announced he is retiring, was included in our 2011 ‘Obscure Caucus.'”

7. The long distance traveling Platts made many trips to war zones in the Middle East. But he probably accrued more commuting miles to work.  Platts commuted each day to Congress from York  – two hours each way – so he could spend evenings with his family.

8.  Under the headline “Returning an Obscure Congressman to Permanent Obscurity,”  redstate.com created a new verb: “Todd Platts. He represents Pennsylvania’s 19th district, and he needs to be primaried.”

9. And finally, York Daily Record columnist Mike Argento tells this story in a 2011 column:

Salon magazine listed five congressmen who are known to  show up on the aisle for State of the Union addresses, calling them “Aisle Hogs.”

But the list didn’t include Todd Platts, who is known for positioning himself there.

He did so in 2009, for example,  when he garnered a signature from President Obama on the congressman’s copy of the ceremonial State of the Union speech. He said he got the autograph for York Mayor John Brenner.

“Some observers accused Platts of making off with President Obama’s pen,” Argento wrote. “He didn’t. It was Platts’ pen to begin with.”

 

AP captured President-elect Barack Obama arriving for his inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. He is shown shaking hands with Congressman Todd Platts, who later gained the president’s signature on his copy of Obama’s State of the Union Speech.

*Edited, 1/25/12

 

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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