House of Cards Wiki
House of Cards Wiki

Representative Peter "Pete" Russo was the member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania's first congressional district. He was also a former candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, a position left vacant after Vice President Jim Matthews' resignation as Governor.


Peter has a diploma from Drexel University and Temple University on the wall of his office.

Russo was married to Madelyn, with whom he had a daughter Sarah, age 11, and a son Kevin, age 8. He and Madelyn divorced and didn't appear to be on good terms. Madelyn lives in Washington and has primary custody of their children. His Philly roots speak to his rough-around-the-edges style and his close ties to the people of his home city prove to be the reason why he was elected as a Congressman for his state.

Russo follows the direction of House Majority Whip Frank Underwood as a "repayment" of sorts; Russo was arrested for DUI and soliciting a prostitute, but Underwood covered up both by bribing D.C. Police Chief Barney Hull. In the process of obeying Underwood's direction, Russo alienates his hometown supporters after failing to testify against the closure of a shipyard, which subsequently closed, and its 12,000 employees lost their jobs. The angry letters and emails he receives depress him and cause him to lapse into his old habits as an alcoholic and drug abuser, which eventually leads to his neglecting his children. Christina Gallagher, who is his executive assistant and girlfriend, breaks up with Peter following his downward spiral.

Peter gathers himself and attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and it is during this "comeback" that Underwood taps him to run for Governor of Pennsylvania. Despite being a less-than-ideal gubernatorial candidate on paper, Russo is selected to run for Governor with the help of Underwood. During the campaign, Underwood makes a calculated move and sends Rachel Posner to a fundraiser party that Russo was attending. She tempts and teases him into an all-night drinking binge (she herself remains sober, and they never have sex), and the night before an important radio interview. Russo botches the interview and effectively ends his chances at becoming Governor. He secludes himself in his apartment and continues to drink himself into a stupor, sneaks out of his apartment, and exhibits erratic, strange behavior. After calling his daughter, he decides to turn himself into the police to atone for his past crimes, but is intercepted by Doug Stamper.

Frank Underwood drives Russo back to his apartment, and shares a brief chat with him in the car, before Russo falls asleep. Underwood removes all traces of himself from the car, and guides Russo's finger to the ignition, starting the car. Underwood exits the car, and leaves the garage, closing the door behind him, leaving Russo to suffocate. 


Peter was remembered after his death, which was investigated as a possible murder by Zoe Barnes, Lucas Goodwin and Janine Skorsky. He was later mentioned during a conversation between President Frank Underwood and Doug Stamper in the Oval Office.

Post Death Appearance

Both he and Zoe Barnes appear in a bout of hallucinations of (now-President) Frank in Chapter 45. During one of them, Frank and Zoe are groping each other on the couch when Peter appears at the Resolute desk. Then, both he and Zoe proceed to entrap and attack Frank both violently and sexually.


Peter is an alcoholic and occasional drug user, and a somewhat weak man. However, in his sober moments of self-reflection and realization, he sets goals he works very ambitiously towards, proving that he’s capable and intelligent when he’s motivated . He seems to be one of the few characters in the show with an actual gauge of what's right and wrong, although he sometimes finds it difficult to execute those decisions (e.g., the shipyard).

Characters met

Behind the Scenes

  • Peter Russo was portrayed by Corey Stoll in Season 1 of House of Cards.
  • Peter Russo is based on the British character Roger O'Neill for similarities.
    • His situation involving being caught with a prostitute is also based off a minor character, MP Stoat.


Season 1
"Chapter 1" "Chapter 2" "Chapter 3" "Chapter 4" "Chapter 5"
"Chapter 6" "Chapter 7" "Chapter 8" "Chapter 9" "Chapter 10"
"Chapter 11" "Chapter 12" "Chapter 13"
Season 4
"Chapter 40" "Chapter 41" "Chapter 42" "Chapter 43" "Chapter 44"
"Chapter 45" "Chapter 46" "Chapter 47" "Chapter 48" "Chapter 49"
"Chapter 50" "Chapter 51" "Chapter 52"


  • Peter appeared in every episode up to his death.
  • Peter has met all main characters except Zoe, Tom, Lucas and Adam.
  • Peter appeared in Chapter 45 as a hallucination in Frank's mind.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Democratic nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Jim Matthews