Well, it’s only $15,000, but it’s the thought that counts. Dino Rossi’s election contest
slap nuisance suit has finally come to an official close with a one sentence written order by Judge John Bridges, and Republicans delivering a $15,000 check to Democrats to pay for court costs. The Dems had asked for $48,000, but agreed to settle for less.
GOPolitburo Chair Chris Vance dismissed the settlement as “a business decision”… but then, the entire election contest was a business decision. The Republicans dragged this frivolous case through the courts, knowing they had little or no chance of prevailing, because they felt the legal and financial costs were well worth the potential PR victory. Unfortunately for the R’s, Christine Gregoire governed effectively and authoritatively throughout the ongoing controversy… and while Ron Sims’ political fortunes may have been tarnished by the relentless assault on his office, the Republicans have been unable to capitalize by putting up a viable alternative for King County Executive. (David Irons…? Gimme a break.)
The GOP faithful have also deluded themselves into thinking that this debacle will somehow help them capture Maria Cantwell’s US Senate seat in 2006; they’re going to have to find themselves a decent candidate first… and if he’s a man of his word, it won’t be Rossi. But whoever they run, the political dynamics of that race will focus less on local politics, and more on whether WA voters want to hand complete and total control of the Federal government to the right-wing of the Republican Party. This election will be about whether voters in a state that gave decisive victories to John Kerry and Patty Murray are willing to give an automatic cloture vote to Bill Frist, Tom DeLay and Karl Rove (and his talking dummy.)
As for the inevitable rematch in the 2008 governor’s race, that’s still a long ways away, and if Gov. Gregoire runs the same kind of timid, visionless campaign that allowed Rossi to turn this last one into a virtual tie, well then… she’ll deserve to lose. But she ain’t stoopid.
Plus, if Rossi attempts to capture the sympathy vote by running on the “stolen election” theme, there is a simple refutation… Judge Bridges final order:
“As set forth in the Court’s oral ruling of dismissal on June 6, 2005 … this election contest petition is dismissed with prejudice and the certification of Christine Gregoire as the duly elected Governor of the State of Washington is hereby confirmed.”
Judge Bridges rejected every single Republican claim. The case was “dismissed with prejudice” for a reason… there was no case. That’s why the R’s paid the D’s court costs. If Rossi tries to ride this issue into 2008, he’s going to come off looking like a poor loser. Plus, the role of victim simply doesn’t suit Rossi, and runs counter to the supposedly positive, forward-looking, agent-of-change theme that almost got him elected.
The recipe for a Gregoire victory in 2008 is simple. She needs to be an effective and popular governor, while her fellow Democrats in the Legislature and in King County need to largely address the legitimate concerns that were raised by the unprecedented scrutiny of the 2004 election. Force Rossi to run on real issues, and he loses, because really, there are very few issues that work to his advantage.
If Rossi insists on making the 2004 election the heart of his 2008 campaign, he’s destined to be a three-time loser… two elections and his stupid-ass law suit.
Reader Mark pointed out that I incorrectly used the term “slap suit” in my opening sentence. It was in fact a “nuisance suit.” I stand corrected.