In yesterday’s editorial endorsement of Patty Murray, the Everett Herald does its best to say nice things about Dino Rossi, but just can’t get past the doctrinaire Republican campaign he’s been running:
Rossi’s uncompromising approaches on taxes, immigration and health-care reform strike us as too rigid to be effective.
What the Herald describes as “rigid” others have ascribed to a veer to the right, presumably in response to Clint Didier and the overhyped Tea Party fad, but that’s a meme I just don’t buy. For one, it’s hard to veer to a position you already hold, and Rossi has always been a far-right-wing candidate on many major issues. But more significantly, a veer to the right just doesn’t make sense as an electoral strategy in a state that, let’s face it, is solidly Democratic, even if by somewhat modest margins.
Some GOPers may not have noticed, but Washington state voters haven’t gone for the Republican candidate in a U.S. Senate race since 1994, in a presidential contest since 1984, and in a gubernatorial race since 1980. The margins aren’t always huge, but the outcome is clear: Washington is a solidly Democratic state.
And the logical conclusion from these results? In order to win in Washington, statewide Republican candidates need to win a significant portion of Democratic voters. And therein lies Rossi’s major weakness: Democratic voters just don’t like him.
Of course, Rossi almost won in 2004, running an all-things-to-all-people tabula rossi campaign against an overconfident Chris Gregoire who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) pull the trigger on the barrage of last-minute attack ads that would have propelled her to a (relatively) comfortable victory. But the same swing Democrats who almost carried him into the governors mansion in 2004, knew Rossi better by 2008, and Gov. Gregoire went on to win reelection by a more typical Democratic margin.
And in 2010, Democrats know Rossi even better, a prejudice that would take a substantial GOP turnout advantage, and/or a near sweep of true independents, to overcome. And while Rossi’s certainly right that he stands a better chance of election in a non-presidential year, when Democratic turnout is inevitably lighter, he’d be foolish to think he could win this race without any Democratic support at all.
And it’s hard to see many Democratic voters — self-identified or not — casting their ballots for such a “rigid” Republican.