Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Rossi says E. Washington voters can sway election; Republican hoping to unseat Gregoire pays visit to Pullman"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi said eastern Washington voters have the power to trump the "Seattle ship" [Dino actually said "Seattle chip," as in getting it off our shoulders - tf] and decide the outcome of the state's general election in November.

Rossi told business and community leaders at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman this morning that the key is increasing turnout.

The numbers are simple: Seattle has 9 percent of the state's population, while eastern Washington accounts for 22 percent. In Seattle, 84 percent of registered voters participated in the 2004 governor's race, compared to 80 percent in eastern Washington. Rossi said that 4 percent difference could have swayed the election that he lost by less than 1 percent.

"You folks can control every single election if you want to," Rossi said. "Don't let anyone tell you your vote doesn't count."

If elected, Rossi said his priorities will include changing the culture and direction of the government.

Rossi said he would like to see the government treat Washington residents like valued "customers," rather than "nuisances."

He criticized Gov. Chris Gregoire for irresponsible and unchecked spending that has amounted to a 34 percent increase in the state's budget since taking office. Rossi added the state's spending growth rate is 2.5 times that of its revenue growth rate.

That spending has meant $500 million in new taxes, Rossi said. He also suspects Gregoire will push for a state income tax.

"She's going to raise taxes again and it doesn't matter what she says," he said.

Rossi said being fiscally responsible doesn't mean social services like those for the elderly and disabled will be neglected.

"It's possible to be fiscally conservative and still have a social conscious," [sic] Rossi said.

The economy also is a looming issue. Rossi said "there's more to the business climate than Microsoft and Boeing."

He would like to see the state become a destination choice for entrepreneurs and their new businesses. However, Washington currently has one of highest small business failure rates in the nation. That, coupled with high workers compensation and unemployment rates, prevents many businesses from locating in the state.

"All of these things are killing the next Bill Gates and Boeing. It doesn't have to be that way," Rossi said. "I want to turn Washington state into an entrepreneurial state."

Rossi said Olympia politics too often are driven by "squabbling adults" [i.e. the teachers union - tf] rather than common sense and what is right for the state's residents. He cited a $13 million education grant the state lost because officials couldn't agree how to spend the money.

"We are not doing what is in the best interest of the children," he said.

The general election will give Washington voters a chance to change the state's course that was set in 2004.

"Rarely in life do we ever get a second change at something that is really important, but with this race Washington state gets a second chance," Rossi said.

Washington's primary elections are Aug. 19, and the general election is Nov. 4.

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