Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Rossi has high expectations for his second try; Republican who narrowly lost 2004 governor's race visits Whitman County"

The latest SurveyUSA poll has Dino up 10 points in Eastern Washington and down by that same margin in the metro(natural) Seattle area.

From today's Lewiston Tribune:
PULLMAN - If a snowball has a chance in June, then Republican Dino Rossi said Tuesday he as an even better second chance in November's Washington state gubernatorial election.

"Definitely better than that," said Rossi while making a campaign swing through Whitman County amid a freak mid-June snowfall. "It's remarkable where we are."

Rossi, who lost to Democrat Chris Gregoire in 2004 by 129 votes, said prior to a noon Pullman Chamber of Commerce luncheon that he and the incumbent are in a "statistical dead" heat.

"Last time I started with a 12 percent name identity statewide. Most everybody thought Dino Rossi was some kind of wine at that point. A cheap wine at that," Rossi said, using what has become a routine campaign line.

Today, Rossi said, he again enjoys strong backing on the east side of the state and what he called an "amazing" surge on the west side.

"It's not just Republicans," Rossi said. "Last time we had tens of thousands of Democrats who crossed party lines and we called them Dinocrats." Those same crossover voters are back, Rossi insisted, and they're bringing friends to the polls.

"We're in a position to win."

Rossi dismissed the notion Gregoire might benefit from more Democrats voting because Barack Obama has energized the party on a national level.

"I don't know if she (Gregoire) actually thought it through when she endorsed Barack Obama and brought the change message to Washington State," Rossi said, adding Democrats have been in charge since he was in grammar school. "It's been 28 years since we elected a Republican."

Politics in Olympia almost changed in 2004 when Rossi, a state senator from Sammamish, resigned his seat, ran against Gregoire and was initially declared the winner by 261 votes. A mandatory recount showed he still won, but only by 42 votes. After a third count, done by hand, Gregoire was declared the winner by 129 votes.

"Sixty-five percent of the people who are new to the campaign this time are people who wanted me to win, but didn't vote," Rossi said. "They've been kicking themselves ever since."

Republican leaders in Washington sued over the 2004 election results, but a judge upheld the Gregoire victory. Rossi decided to not appeal to the state Supreme Court and instead announced last October his intention to challenge Gregoire again in 2008.

"Fiscal responsibility is going to be a very big issue," Rossi said, adding he plans to challenge Gregoire's handling of the purse strings in the arenas of spending and tax increases. "People understand exactly what I'm trying to do."

He said his experience as a state senator in 2003 helping erase a budget shortfall without raising taxes puts him in good stead with where he wants to lead the state as governor.

"I want Washington state to be the worst place in America to be a criminal and the best place in America to start a business," Rossi said. He said he plans to gear his administration around encouraging entrepreneurs to invest in a business-friendly state where tax revenues can increase without tax increases.

"Anyone who thinks you aren't sending enough money to Olympia, don't feel guilty because you are sending enough money," he said, accusing his opponent of allowing reckless spending.

Rossi was introduced at the noon luncheon, but did not speak. He made a number of stops earlier in the morning and was scheduled to tour the new Schweitzer Engineering Laboratory building here, sit down informally with Whitman County officials and otherwise spread his message.

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