The Principled Politician: Adam Schrager Shares the Courageous Story of Governor Ralph Carr

During a time when politicians seem to disappoint more than inspire, Adam Schrager’s Principled Politician: The Ralph Carr Story provides a moving portrait of what the public is looking for in its political leaders. Through his biography, Schrager presents readers with the life of Governor Ralph Carr, a man who exemplified the potential power that politicians have to change lives and, ultimately, to change history.

From the start, Ralph Carr is characterized as a man who breaks through all of the unflattering stereotypes of politicians. He was a reluctant candidate for the office of the governor of Colorado in the late 1930s, and after being elected governor, he was determined to remain beholden to no one. Truly a man of the people, he kept his address and phone number listed in Denver’s city directory and even answered his own phone. Rather than campaigning for higher positions in government, Carr often shied away from opportunities to advance his political career—rejecting the proposal that he take the place of Colorado’s Senator Adams when he died from a heart attack in 1941 and disregarding a New York Times editorial that named him as a potential vice presidential candidate.

In 1942, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Ralph Carr refused to give in to the wave of prejudices aimed against Japanese Americans. While many other national leaders were supporting efforts to relocate Japanese Americans, Carr was outspoken in his opposition to this movement, urging Colorado residents to work together to protect the Constitutional rights of all Americans. In a recent interview with the Japanese American National Museum, Adam Schrager, the book’s author, elaborated on the unique character of Ralph Carr during the incarceration of Japanese Americans. “Ralph Carr knew what he stood for and was willing to walk away from even being mentioned as a presidential candidate, to do the right thing. He set aside self-interest for the public’s interest even as the public didn’t get it. And maybe the most remarkable component to the story is that when the negative feedback came in the form of letters, phone calls, impeachment calls, physical threats, Ralph Carr didn’t back down. He became more resolute and sincerely believed all he had to do was to get out in front of more people to explain why he believed what he believed. He thought every ‘thinking and rational’ person would get it. The fact he came as close as he did to winning is an example that maybe he was right.”

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Ralph Carr listened to his own heart and conscience. As Adam Schrager notes, “Ralph Carr is the elected official we all say we want, but don’t necessarily support when we have the opportunity. His story is a message that you can be celebrated for taking tough and principled decisions and a call to voters that we need to do our part to embrace those candidates. In today’s society, we have, in essence, neutered the very individuals we want to be leaders, and we’ve turned them into followers.”

Not surprisingly, readers of The Principled Politician are inevitably moved by the biography. Schrager shared, “On my very first book signing, I met a nearly 90-year-old woman by the name of Mitchie Terasaki who shared with me a story of when she met Governor Carr in the early 1940s. She had passed the civil service exam and was having trouble getting hired into government because, she believed, she was Japanese American. Carr not only ensured she would be hired, but she told me he called her after Pearl Harbor and offered to send his driver for her, to take her to and from work, if she was afraid of coming on her own.” The writer recently spoke with a group of high school students, touching upon the Governor’s relevance in their own lives. He said, “At its core, this is a story about someone who stood up for what was unpopular, despite its personal risks, because he felt it was the right thing to do. I hope to create a culture where these types of stories are not the anomaly, but the norm.”

Adam Schrager is a political journalist and broadcaster for KUSA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Denver, Colorado. In addition, he is currently hosting a weekly public affairs program called “Your Show” where viewers submit the questions and comments that are then posed to guests, ranging from presidential candidates to our local politicians to other newsmakers in the community. Throughout his fifteen-year career, he has garnered a number of awards, including more than a dozen Emmy awards. In a recent interview, he revealed that he has other ideas for books and research projects, but most of his time is happily occupied with his wife and his daughter Harper.

May 2008

Adam Schrager was a keynote speaker at the National Museum's conference Whose America? Who’s American? Diversity, Civil Liberties, and Social Justice in Denver, CO from July 3–6, 2008.

For more information, visit the conference Web site

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