Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Didier Campaign Implies Rossi is Floundering

There's a political narrative being spun by the Didier campaign in the Washington U.S. Senate race that somehow the Dino Rossi campaign is sputtering.  Didier is in D.C. to meet with the National Republican Senatorial Committee and to do some fundraising, according to Politico.  Didier has just tweeted that he has also met with Ron Paul.  Having support from both Sarah Palin and Ron Paul might seem a little weird, but Palin did endorse Rand Paul in Kentucky (as well as Ron Paul's neo-con archnemesis John McCain.)  The "Rogue"  has been all over the place in her endorsements this year.

Of course, the NRSC recruited Didier's opponent, Dino Rossi, so the implication is that somehow the NRSC is now souring on Rossi.  Didier chief campaign adviser Kathryn Serkes, of Square One Media Network in Bellevue, told Publicola.

They made some noises about supporting Dino Rossi before he declared, but now that his campaign hasn’t soared the way it was supposed to, they’re talking to us.
The GOP establishment Serkes said, “thought they could swoop in and tell us who to support, but they’ve realized this is a [grassroots] year.”
Serkes might be playing a bit fast and loose with the facts.  The NRSC e-mailed Publicola:
Throughout this election cycle, we’ve been happy to meet with any candidate in any race who is interested in sitting down with our staff to discuss our efforts to win races in November. Until this morning, we never heard from the Didier campaign until they contacted us and requested a meeting—had they contacted us six months ago we would have been happy to talk to them then as well.  But to spin this into something it’s not, is disappointing.
It's also disappointing that some in the Tea Party movement have drank the Campaign for Liberty's Kool-Aid about Rossi.  Other than the fringe Ron Paul stuff, Rossi and Didier are virtually the same on Tea Party-focused isues of health care, federal spending, auditing the Fed, limited government, cap-and-trade, etc.  But I digress...

Serkes also alleges that there was an attempted fix on to make the recent Washington Republican convention a coronation for Dino.  But as Publicola reports, there isn't much proof of that, other than maybe some wishful thinking at a May 1 state party executive board meeting in Yakima.  And state party chair Luke Esser continues to support a contested primary to let the best candidate win.

Here's my take.

Obviously, Dino Rossi enjoys widespread support.  His Facebook page now has over 25,000 followers and he raised $600,000 in one week, much of it online.  That's twice as much as Didier raised since last October.  Until those numbers change, as well as the polling numbers, all Didier is going to have show is smoke and mirrors like this.  In fact, the latest Elway Poll finds that in a four way race between Rossi, Didier, Paul Akers and Patty Murray, Dino is way ahead of both Didier and Akers .  Rossi received 31% to Didier's 5% and Akers' 2%.  Dino also closed the gap from the last Elway poll in a race strictly between him and Murray by 6%, with Murray ahead  47%-40%.

Even if Didier had more supporters among the 1200 delegates and 400 alternates at the convention in Vancouver (no one will ever know for sure,) it doesn't matter.  The delegates represent just a microscopic fraction of voters in the Top Two primary that will be held in August, which is not limited to just Republicans.  And delegates to the convention were selected at county conventions held back in March, long before Dino had entered the race.  In any case, my observation was that there was plenty of support for Dino among delegates, as well as Didier.

The Didier campaign seems all too interested in straw polls, based upon their highly-touted "Liberty Coalition" event held Friday evening in Vancouver.  They packed it with 150 Didier supporters (some of whom were convention delegates, some not) and made sure the press was on hand to report the negative quotes about Rossi not wanting to get the U.S. out of the U.N. or strongly back the Arizona immigration law and the straw poll results, which of course greatly favored Didier.  Again, do 150 people represent the tens of thousands in the Washington Tea Party movement?  Who knows?

To paraphrase Serkes, if Didier whipped his votes on the convention floor and found that he had enough, why wasn't a straw poll held during Saturday's general session?  A motion to that effect was made very early in the proceedings and resoundingly defeated.   The answer is clearly that the Didier camp wasn't confident it could win such a poll (nor was the Rossi camp either I suppose.)  So no overall straw poll, just a handpicked, strongly biased one, with the real winner being Esser, who says the party will not back a candidate before the primary.

Hey, it's politics.  As much as some like to claim they are "outsiders" and "not playing politics as usual," they really are playing political hardball like anyone else.  They get professional hired gun consultants who try to weave a tale that their opponent is floundering, which is a time-tested strategy.  So what if it doesn't match reality?  You vigorously back your guy and let the voters decide.

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