[NWPT48]I concluded my post-ruling analysis by demanding that Dino Rossi apologize for taking his meritless election contest to trial. But of course, I’m just a partisan blogger, so it’s nice to see a respected political commentator like The Seattle Weekly’s George Howland Jr. open his post-ruling coverage with the same demand (“A Fraudulent Finish.”)
Republican Dino Rossi should have apologized to Washington state. On Monday, June 6, after seven months of irresponsible rhetoric and fruitless litigation by his lawyers and spinmeisters, Rossi finally ended his bid for the governorship. He did not, however, take personal responsibility for his headline-grabbing, whiny, and expensive litigation. Instead, Rossi took a page out of the playbook of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, making an ad hominem attack on the integrity of the state’s highest court. It was as baseless as the rest of his legal arguments and should serve as a reminder that Rossi is deeply wedded to the radical right-wing agenda emanating from D.C.
It has been suggested to me that I should go easy on Rossi for his comments immediately following Judge Bridges’ decision, as he must have been speaking from a deep state of personal disappointment.
For Rossi to have been deeply disappointed would have required a reasonable expectation that he might have prevailed Monday morning, an expectation that could only have been born out of ignorance, idiocy or ideology. It’s not that I have ever considered Rossi to be the most informed, intelligent or open-minded of candidates, but he isn’t stupid, and if his high-priced attorneys had left him with the impression that he should be measuring for curtains in the Governor’s Mansion, then he should sue them for malpractice. Perhaps the only thing legally surprising about Judge Bridges’ decision was its severity. As Howland reports:
The complete legal rout delivered by the judge came as no surprise to Seattle University law professor John Strait. “It’s pretty much what I would have expected,” says Strait. “I’m not sure that the Republicans ever thought they would reverse the results of the election. This was an organizing tool for them.”
An organizing tool for the state GOP, but I’m not so sure it will turn out to be such a great boost to Rossi’s political career. Had he bowed out gracefully in early January — at a time when the GOP’s most inflammatory allegations were at a fever pitch — he could have assumed the mantle of a martyr who sacrificed his own personal ambitions for the good of the state. Disenfranchised military voters, shady “enhanced” ballots, mishandled provisionals, and felon, dead, and double voters would have forever clouded the results of this election. But now with the charges “dismissed with prejudice” by a cherry-picked judge in conservative Chelan County, voters will be rightly suspicious of any attempt by Rossi to brand himself as a victim of corrupt Democrats. To the swing voters — mostly Democrats — who made this race closer than it ever should have been, the allegations are no longer merely unproved… they are disproved.
As to the party faithful, for whom no amount of evidence or common sense could ever refute the cult of the stolen election, it will be a long four years until Rossi’s inevitable rematch with Gov. Christine Gregoire. A reliable source assures me that it is “100%” certain that Rossi will not challenge Ron Sims for King County Executive. And other sources and circumstances assure me that a US Senate bid is nearly as unlikely. Indeed, the very fact that his campaign staff is finally disbanding, is as strong an indication as any that Rossi’s next race sits well beyond the 2005 or 2006 campaign seasons.
Rossi and his surrogates have made a lot of shrewd PR moves in their efforts to position him for his next campaign, but his Monday evening “concession speech” was not one of them. Rather than issuing an apologia for ending the contest, he should have issued an apology for bringing it.