Rossi Simplifies - Giving up senator seat was the right call
Olympia, WA - State Sen. Dino Rossi's mildly surprising announcement Friday that he'll quit his job in the Legislature to focus on running for governor was the responsible thing to do.
Some Democrats are already spinning it, however.
Welcome to the uglier side of politics.
Christian Sinderman, a spokesman for Democrat rival Christine Gregoire's gubernatorial campaign, told the Associated Press, "He made the commitment to serve the voters of the 5th District." He added, "All he's really doing is serving his own political ambition. He should be in Olympia taking the tough votes. Instead he's just going to be out hustling special interest money."
The statement would be hilarious if it wasn't so nasty. It is hypocrisy at its finest.
Sinderman and some others would just love for Rossi, R-Issaquah, to stay on in the Legislature, unable to raise campaign funds as a serving legislator and placing himself at risk of distortion for every move he makes even if he didn't engage in fund raising.
Rossi's later entry into the race already has him about $700,000 short of what state Attorney General Gregoire, the lead Democrat in the race, has gathered. She has raised more than $1.1 million. Gregoire also has more statewide name recognition than Rossi does. And what would Sinderman characterize that $1.1 million as? Certainly not "special interest money," right?
Further, any Rossi opponent would love for the senator to stay in Olympia "taking the tough votes," only to have those votes twisted and shouted over in every possible unfavorable light.
The smear shot is too bad, because Gregoire is a classy politician. And the likely race between Rossi and Gregoire in 2004 offers Washingtonians attractive options.
Both Gregoire and Rossi have proven themselves to be capable leaders and have served the state well. Offering voters a choice between two bright gubernatorial candidates who differ on public policy issues is what every state should hope for. Having such candidates bodes well for the entire state's future quality of life, and it should increase the quality of pre-election debate.
Too bad it didn't this week.
Critics of Rossi's move must consider that the four-month legislative session is already a more-than-full-time gig if done well. Better for voters of the 5th District to have an undistracted lawmaker representing them.
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