Rossi Rejects Didier's Demands in Washington Senate Race
Will the tea party holdout hurt the Republican Senate nominee?
11:20 PM, Aug 20, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
A Washington state Senate race poll conducted after Tuesday's primary shows that Republican nominee Dino Rossi has jumped out to a 7-point lead over incumbent Democrat Patty Murray. According to the SurveyUSA poll, Rossi leads Murray 52 percent to 47 percent. This is a significant change from three polls conducted in the past month, which showed Murray ahead by anywhere from 2 to 4 points.
But just as things are looking up for Rossi, his GOP primary opponent Clint Didier, a former pro-football player who had the backing of Sarah Palin, is refusing to endorse Rossi unless Rossi signs anti-tax, anti-spending, and pro-life pledges.
"If it's not me," Didier said on a radio program on May 28, "whoever it is, I'll get behind them. I'll work as hard for them as I did for me." But sometime since then Didier changed his mind. "I want to endorse Dino – I really do," Didier said at a press conference Friday, according to a transcript of prepared remarks. "I want to beat Patty Murray. I really want that." But Didier said he could only endorse Rossi upon three conditions.
Rossi won't submit to Didier's demands, writes Rossi communications director Jennifer Morris in an email to THE WEEKLY STANDARD:
It seems Rossi has more of a problem with the principle (and the appearance) of bowing to Didier than the substance of Didier's demands.
Rossi's no moderate squish--he's a pro-life fiscal conservative who got the endorsement of Senator Jim DeMint, a conservative stalwart who has backed anti-establishment tea party favorites in races across the country.
Of course, there may be some potential problems with Didier's specific demands. Rossi has already signed Grover Norquist's "taxpayer protection" pledge, but Didier's tax pledge--“I will not vote for any new taxes, or increases in existing taxes”--could pose some problems. It doesn't appear on its face to allow for, say, reducing the income tax and making up lost revenue with a new consumption tax. Didier's spokesperson Kathryn Gerkes says that isn't the case--the pledge is only intended to prevent "net tax increases." But the words "net tax" are missing from the text of the pledge.
And what if a war breaks out? Would Rossi need to find tens or hundreds of billions of dollars to cut from the budget before funding a war if he wanted to live up to Didier's anti-spending pledge? "You and I both know that would be a special instance of funding outside of the budget," says Didier spokesperson Kathryn Gerkes. But Didier's pledge doesn't explicitly allow any exceptions.
As for the pro-life legislation (see the text here), returning jurisdiction over abortion laws to the states is not out of the mainstream, but stripping the Court's jurisdiction certainly poses some thorny legal questions.
Didier only captured 12 percent of the primary vote (compared to Rossi's 34 percent), but in a tight race he could cost Republicans the election if he can keep one or two percent of the electorate from voting for Rossi. The one upside of this episode for Rossi is that it let's Rossi appeal to independents by appearing to be independent. But on the whole, it seems like a net negative for Rossi and a needless fight for Republicans hoping to beat Patty Murray.
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