Why did Dino Rossi lose his second gubernatorial bid and his only U.S. Senate bid? The way I see it, Rossi lost because voters recognized something unlikable in him. The public’s first big taste of the unlikable side of Rossi came in his 2005 “concession speech,” following the loss of a bitterly-fought legal contest at the end of his first gubernatorial fight:
With today’s decision, and because of the political makeup of the Washington state Supreme Court, which makes it almost impossible to overturn this ruling, I am ending the election contest.
It wasn’t a moment of statesmanship for Rossi. In his subsequent 2008 and 2010 statewide elections, Rossi frequently exhibited a similar peevishness that left a bad impression with voters. Maybe he was deeply bitter (2008), or maybe he was annoyed at being forced to run a hopeless campaign (2010). Either way, he was unlikable.
Fast forward to late 2011. We have one Rob McKenna running for Governor. This is a man who has been elected twice to Attorney General, the second time with 59% of the vote.
This time McKenna has a serious liability in his run for Governor: He comes off as a petulant asshole.
We can all look back with bemusement that McKenna kicked off his campaign by excluding Goldy in his role as a reporter for The Stranger. Confronted by uber-legitimate Stranger reporter Eli Sanders, McKenna impishly replied:
“I don’t think David Goldstein qualifies as a journalist,” a miffed McKenna told Eli. “He’s a hack. He’s a partisan hack. He’s just there to parrot points from the other side.”
More recently, McKenna has decided that all Stranger reporters are personae non gratae:
Gubernatorial wannabe and anti-health-care crusader Rob McKenna is holding a campaign kick-off breakfast tomorrow morning, but The Stranger, if you can believe it, is not allowed inside. After I emailed the campaign to RSVP, I got a call back from McKenna-protector Adam Faber explaining, “Tomorrow’s event is for invited press only, and we didn’t invite The Stranger.” […]
“This is very simple and it is all I intend to say,” Fabar intentionally said. “The Stranger’s editorial director has made a $500 donation to our opponent and political blogger, Mr. Goldstein, is listed on the PDC reports as the head of a political action committee called the No Rob PAC. I think that speaks for itself.”
Well, Adam, it’s actually called the No Reversing Our Benefits PAC.
Dan Savage donated $500 to Inslee. Ooooohhh. Goldy, before he was employed by The Stranger created a PAC called “No Reversing Our Benefits PAC,” with the amusing acronym “NoROB PAC”. It was a fucking joke…unless you are a peevish and, perhaps, paranoid gubernatorial wannabe.
McKenna made a peevish spectacle of himself again when a Democratic videographer showed up to video tape his talk in a openly-advertised public venue. After his attempts to intimidate the videographer failed, McKenna terminated the presentation and beat a retreat to the “cupcake table.”
And then there’s the episode where McKenna had fucked up its own campaign cash rollover and bitterly complained about Jay Inslee’s query to the PDC about rolling over his federal dollars into his state campaign.
Recently a special session of the state legislature was convened that, by law, prohibits state elected officials, like McKenna but not Inslee, from fundraising. The McKenna campaign wailed like a spoiled child:
“At what point does Congressman Inslee start acting like someone following Washington state rules, instead of someone following Washington D.C. rules?” [McKenna’s campaign manager Randy] Pepple said.
(If McKenna wants a level playing field, perhaps he would agree to commute to D.C. for the work week….)
McKenna’s most recent display of petulance was last Friday when, at the last minute, he cancelled an interview with the Washington Education Association:
WEA members were disappointed McKenna decided not to share his opinions on education with the group, Lindquist said.
“The teachers here wondered why he wasn’t here. They were speculating that he was afraid to meet with us,” or that education was not one of his priorities, Lindquist said.
McKenna’s campaign manager, Randy Pepple, said the attorney general decided not to attend the WEA endorsement interview because he didn’t expect to have a fair hearing with people who were interested in hearing his point of view.
“It became very apparent yesterday that the WEA was turning today into `celebrating the endorsement of Congressman Inslee Day,'” Pepple said Saturday.
Lindquist said the WEA changed the date of its candidate interviews after McKenna said he had a conflict with the original Nov. 12 date. His campaign called the union on Friday afternoon to cancel his interview with the WEA-PAC Board. The union said he also refused to answer written questions about public education.
McKenna thinks he cannot win, so takes his ball and goes home. Maybe he got a cupcake.
Dissing the teachers was a stupid—and revealing—unforced error on McKenna’s part. For one thing, McKenna fancies himself as big on education. Apparently, he’s not so “into” it that he can communicate with teachers.
And dissing a teachers’ union raises a big red flag for folks who aren’t quite convinced that a Governor McKenna would do for Washington state what Governor Scott Walker has done to Public Sector employees in Wisconsin. Over the past year, we have seen a systematic Republican War on Workers. Would a Gov. McKenna bring the war to Washington? You know…the same way he forced us to join the multistate lawsuit against the healthcare reform law?
A better McKenna would have engaged the teachers, recognize common ground, acknowledge differences and made his best case. Instead, McKenna ran from the fight and then whined about it. And what we know from recent elections…the voters just don’t go for petulant whiners.