I suppose state Sen. Don Benton’s unsurprising withdrawal from the U.S. Senate race is good news for real estate speculator and two-time gubernatorial loser Dino Rossi… that is, if you had any doubt of Rossi making it through the crowded Republican field and onto the November ballot.
No? No doubts? Then it’s not really all that significant, is it?
What it does do however, is focus the GOP primary as a contest between Rossi, the lone establishment Republican in the race, and Palin-anointed federal-subsidy-dependent teabagger Clint Didier. This simplified narrative leaves a much more compelling (and, well, easier) story for our media to tell. And I’m not so sure that is good news for the Rossi camp.
The problem for Rossi is that his hopes depend on a Republican wave, a wave built upon the enthusiasm of the teabagger base of his party. If Rossi draws too stark a distinction between himself and Didier, this enthusiasm may be hard to capture. Likewise, if Rossi simply tries to ignore Didier (which appears to be his current strategy), this too could create resentment within the GOP base.
But Didier’s politics are, well, crazy, so if Rossi embraces them he risks alienating the so-called “moderate” independent and soft-Democratic voters Republicans need to win statewide elections. Ask Ellen Craswell and John Carlson how an enthusiastic embrace of conservative ideals worked out for them.
The point is, it’s Didier not Benton who represents the biggest intra-party bump in Rossi’s road to the other Washington. And it remains to be seen if it will bump his wheels out of alignment.