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The Constant Candidate

Editorial for June 10, 2010

The constant candidate

Dino Rossi is back, and he is threatening to turn into one of those gadfly candidates who runs every time there's a statewide office on the ballot.

In late May, after running and losing twice in his bids for the governor's office in 2004 and 2008, Rossi decided to mount a third statewide race -- this time, he has decided he is going after U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. We wish he would just go away.

To be sure, Rossi ran a good campaign in 2004 against the eventual winner, Christine Gregoire. The race was essentially a coin toss, and either candidate could have won. It was so close, in fact, that two recounts were ordered, and the final vote was a paper-thin, 130-vote win for Gregoire -- an outcome that many Republicans blasted as a "stolen election."

But those complaints rang hollow when there was a highly anticipated rematch in 2008. Rossi had a chance to show the world that the vote in 2004 had been rigged against him, but the second time around, Gregoire trounced Rossi by about 195,000 votes. No recount needed.

Rossi's late entry into the race this year creates a bit of a quandary for Republicans and for the "tea partiers." The purported leader of the Tea Party movement herself, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has already made her endorsement in Washington's Senate race this year. Palin's choice is Clint Didier, a Republican candidate from eastern Washington and a former tight end with the Washington Redskins.

Palin doesn't seem very impressed with Rossi. Here's a quote from Palin's Facebook page: "I'm proud to support Clint Didier as he willingly puts it all on the line to serve Washington state in the U.S. Senate for all the right reasons," she wrote.

For his part, Didier dismissed Rossi as a failed candidate who "can't win" because Rossi is too closely associated with "Bush-era Republicans."

What does Rossi have going for him in 2010? Well, there is a bit of an anti-incumbent tide in the land, so Rossi is seizing on that as his opportunity.

Yes, Patty Murray is the incumbent, no doubt about that. She has been in the Senate for 18 years -- but if she is doing a good job and fighting on behalf of veterans, for the middle class, for students, and for working men and women, why should voters boot her out?

Former President Bill Clinton provided a good philosophy on voter anger in a recent speech on behalf of an incumbent Senator in Arkansas. He asked those in the crowd to think back on decisions they had made when they were angry. Clinton reasoned that when you are angry and frustrated, you probably "make a poor decision 80 percent of the time."

He's right. It's fine to be angry and want change, but think it through. Do we really want change that is likely to make things worse? After all, as Didier pointed out, Rossi really is a Bush Republican. And to paraphrase Sarah Palin, "how'd that Bush-era thing work out for ya?" Rossi doesn't seem to have anything fresh to offer.

In his concession speech in 2008, Rossi said he did not plan a return to politics. Too bad he didn't stick to that decision.

JB

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