Can Dino Rossi Put Senate Republicans Over the Top?
The GOP fields a top-tier challenger in Washington state.
2:50 PM, Jun 16, 2010 • By FRED BARNES
Dino Rossi is the 10th man. Republicans need to pick up 10 Democratic seats in the midterm election to take control of the Senate. And they probably can’t do it without Rossi, a top-tier challenger in Washington to three-term Democrat Patty Murray. If he wins, Republicans have a realistic chance of gaining a Senate majority.
It won’t be easy. Republicans have been targeting Murray, a conventional liberal, since she first ran as a “mom in tennis shoes” in 1992. She was re-elected by double-digit margins in 1998 and 2004 and shouldn’t be underrated this year. As of March 31, she had $5.9 million in her campaign treasury.
But Murray has never run in a political climate as hostile to Democratic liberals as 2010 appears likely to be. Rossi is the one Republican with statewide name ID, the ability to raise money, and the political skill to mount a competitive race against her. “The good news is the people of the state know me,” he told me last week.
“The reason I got into the race is the country’s in trouble, flat-out trouble,” he says. “There’s so much at stake. It brought me out of political retirement.”
Like most Republicans this year, Rossi, 50, is running on the role of the federal government and economic issues. “You just can’t keep spending” as Democrats have been in Washington, he insists. “We’re going to be France or Greece.” If government spending were sufficient to produce wealth, “there wouldn’t be any poor nations.”
Murray, Rossi says, has voted for all the spending, the bailouts, and government takeovers. “When you add it all up, she has a lot to answer for.”
Rossi, an investor in commercial real estate, trails 42 percent to 40 percent in the latest public poll. But he says he’s ahead in several private surveys. None of her earlier Republican opponents ever pulled ahead of Murray. “My positives are higher [than hers], my negatives are lower,” he says.
Fred Barnes is executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
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