When life gives you Dino, make Dino-ade

It’s no secret I didn’t want Dino Rossi to jump into the race against U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, not because I think he stands much of a chance of winning — he doesn’t — but because of all the other intangibles his candidacy brings with it.

With Rossi in the race, the national Dems will now spend money here that would be better spent defending more vulnerable seats elsewhere, while state Democratic money and focus will be distracted from a host of down-ticket races, not the least of which being the open seat in WA-03, and to a lesser extent WA-02, where Rep. Rick Larsen appears to have finally drawn a reasonably viable challenger. Furthermore, win or lose, this pretty much eliminates Rossi from the 2012 gubernatorial contest where he could have proven a substantial roadblock to Rob McKenna’s naked political ambitions, and a potentially weaker opponent to nearly-inevitable Democratic nominee Jay Inslee.

All in all, I’d always thought of a Rossi candidacy as a net plus for his party, if not for him personally.

But, that doesn’t mean a Rossi candidacy doesn’t present some serious risks to state Republicans — and opportunities to Democrats — especially given his late entry into the race, and the unique political climate in which his party currently finds itself. When life gives you Dino, make Dino-ade… that’s what I always say.

Or, perhaps, make tea.

I’ve never been one to take our state teabaggers too seriously as anything more than a symbolic gesture, and had Rossi jumped into the race back in March, I still wouldn’t have considered them much of a political factor. But Rossi’s last minute candidacy, and the invasion of out-of-state establishment money and consultants he brings with him, is nothing if not a big “fuck you” to Clint Didier and the entire Tea Party crowd.

Oh, the NRSC and the WSRP still want you to show up at rallies and angrily wave your misspelled signs, as long as it’s their chosen candidates you’re rallying for, instead of one of those crazy, constitutionally illiterate hicks that so excites your base. (And no, behind closed doors, mainstream Republicans don’t show you guys much more respect than I do.) You might think you want Didier, or perhaps Sean Salazar, to be the nominee, but the GOP elite… they know better. That’s why they’re force-feeding you Dino Rossi.

And how well Rossi goes down with the Tea Party, especially after the GOP machine brutalizes their preferred candidate, remains to be seen. (That recent hit piece on Didier in the Seattle Times? You don’t suspect that the story was pushed by Republican operatives in an effort to clear the way for Rossi? Welcome to the big leagues.) I don’t know how much sugar Didier supporters put in their tea, but it could take an awful lot for them to willingly swallow Rossi after a bitter primary battle.

Who knows? Perhaps the tea baggers are merely the deluded paper tigers I’ve made them out to be, and they’ll just roll over in front of the Rossi Express. Or, perhaps they’ll prove to be a more potent grassroots force, and fight for the nomination tooth and nail, turning out voters not just in the Senate primary, but in congressional and legislative primaries as well? Perhaps Rossi’s candidacy just made it that much more difficult for establishment GOPer Jaime Herrera to make it to November in WA-03? Perhaps the crazier Republican will triumph in a handful of legislative primaries, Ellen Craswell style, making GOP pickups that much more difficult in the general?

Perhaps… you know… if the Tea Party is really more than a handful of angry Tenthers with a penchant for drawing Hitler mustaches.

And that’s the risk for Republicans in Rossi’s Dino-come-lately candidacy, in a year in which they were counting on Tea Party enthusiasm to get out the vote. Rossi could energize tea baggers… to come out and vote for non-establishment candidates in the August primary. Or, Rossi could totally alienate and/or demoralize his party’s tea bagger base, thus undercutting chances of a Big Red Wave™, at least here in Washington state.

Yeah sure, Rossi makes life at least a little more difficult for the DSCC, and in the unlikely event of a wave election sweeping through this Washington, he gives Republicans a better chance of winning than they might otherwise have. You know, the 50 State Strategy and all that. But by so explicitly dissing the Tea Party faction and their Palin-endorsed candidate, Rossi also creates down-ticket complications that don’t so clearly work out in the GOP’s favor.

So no, tonight at Drinking Liberally, on the eve of Rossi’s announcement, I won’t be crying in my beer. Instead, I’ll be enjoying a tall, refreshing glass of ice-cold Dino-ade in anticipation of making the most out of the opportunities Rossi’s candidacy presents me.

Comments

  1. 1

    spews:

    Is there some way to encourage the teabaggers to try to create a write-in campaign for Didier or whichever crazy Tenther they coalesce around in the general election?

  2. 2

    spews:

    N @1,

    Of course in WA state, you can’t even run as a write-in if you ran in the primary and lost. But I guess since the teabaggers don’t let the Commerce Clause limit them, why should they let state law.

  3. 4

    spews:

    Ah yes, you’re right.

    Of course, stupid flouting of that law isn’t limited to the wingnuts. If just a few of the hundreds, perhaps even a couple thousand, who wrote in Ron Sims in November 2004 had understood it, we might not have had to deal with this Rossi mishegas six years later.

  4. 6

    Zotz spews:

    I don’t think the Teahadists read HA or are smart enough to take your excellent advice if they did.

    Nevertheless, spot on, as usual.

  5. 7

    Mary Plante spews:

    It would be really interesting if Dino didn’t make it through the primary. I think that is a real possibility and I wonder how long it will be before there are polls out showing the relative popularity of the different Republican candidates.

  6. 8

    rhp6033 spews:

    I’m daydreaming, of course, but with Washington’s “top two” primary system, some strange things could happen, especially if Murray pulls away an unexpectedly large share of the vote.

    If the wingnuts don’t understand the impact of a “protest vote” in a top-two primary system, they could conceivably find themselves with Didier as the candidate. For example, if Murray gets over 60% of the primary vote, then all Didier has to do is get 20% to win a spot in the general election – even less if Benton takes away more votes from Rossi. Seattle was suprised to discover this effect in it’s last Mayoral race.

  7. 9

    spews:

    I dunno, rhp6033.

    I’d expect a relatively high non-Democratic turnout in the primary. The only really interesting race for Democrats, at least at a level above the LDs, is the WA-03 primary. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Patty took less than 50% of the vote in August.

    If that happens, of course, Luke Esser and Cynical will trumpet it as a sign of impending doom for Patty. It won’t be, for the very reasons I’ve suggested above.

  8. 10

    spews:

    N @9,

    It’s still possible we could have a tax measure on the ballot in King County in August. That might skew turnout up a bit in a heavily Democratic region.

  9. 11

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 9: Like I said, I was daydreaming. I don’t know if she would break below 50%, but I’m sure it will be less than 60% in the primary. Rossi’s error will be to assume that all the Diddier & Benton votes will automatically swing to him for the general election. He’s going to have to work real hard for those votes, which is time and money he can’t use directly against Murray. Moreover, the more he tries to capture those votes, the more he distances himself from the moderate independents. For every wingnut vote he gains, he may lose an independent vote.

  10. 12

    spews:

    Rossi’s error will be to assume that all the Diddier & Benton votes will automatically swing to him for the general election. He’s going to have to work real hard for those votes, which is time and money he can’t use directly against Murray. Moreover, the more he tries to capture those votes, the more he distances himself from the moderate independents. For every wingnut vote he gains, he may lose an independent vote.

    That’s why he should do everything he can to “appreciate” their presence in the race, without commenting on their issues. If Dino’s good at anything, it’s smiling blandly and saying nothing of consequence.

    (I can’t believe I’m offering political strategy advice to Dino Rossi)

    The odds are next to zero that there will be a “debate” before the primary, though I’d love to see one. If such an event were to transpire, Dino would be in a world of trouble; he’d be forced to bid for the teabagger vote, thereby handing Patty, the DSCC, and the WA Dems a zillion soundbites for their future ads.

  11. 13

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Goldy–
    You still don’t grasp what is happening.
    The Tea Party is not about a political party or a candidate…it’s about Constitutional Conservative principles. As hard as you try, you just cannot get your scrawny l’il city slicker arms around this. Rossi will certainly embrace the Tea Party principles and run a Scott Brown kind of race. He will have a lot more motivated supporters as ground tropps than he did running for Governor where things were too reliant on $$.

    I’m glad you have a mental block on this Goldy.
    I’m not saying Rossi will win…but it will be quite a contest and force Dems to spend extra millions they don’t have defending a seat that should easily be their’s.

    I like your spin effort Goldy…but the fact is this should be an easy Democrat seat which will take lots of Dem resources to defend. Not a happy thing for Dems who are stretched to the hilt & behind in virtually all toss-up districts.

    I’m just sayin’

  12. 14

    slingshot spews:

    The fact is, it will be an easy Dem seat that will waste alot of Republican resources.

  13. 15

    PassionateJus spews:

    @13

    What the Hell are you talking about?

    The DNC currently has $2.5 million more than the RNC.

    The DCCC (House Races) has $15.5 million more than its Republican counterpart.

    The DSCC (Senate races) has a mere $100,000 more than its Republican counterpart, so basically tied.

    Senator Murray currently has over $6 million cash on hand.

    Rossi currently has $0 cash on hand.

  14. 16

    proud leftist spews:

    Cynical
    You still don’t grasp what is happening. The Teabaggers are a blip on the nation’s political radar screen that will have no lasting impact, if indeed they have any at all other than getting a bunch of momentary media attention. They are a bunch of screamers, who wouldn’t know the Constitution from Mein Kampf. They are on the far periphery of the electorate; your support of them provides plain evidence of that. They really don’t have any principles. They’re just not fond of our president’s skin color. Keep touting their merits, however. The more influence they have on the Republican Party, the more insignificant that party becomes.

  15. 17

    spews:

    Cynical @13,

    If Rossi were running for Senator from Cloud Cuckoo Land, you might be right.

    In terms of political impact, teabaggers aren’t really all that different from the crazy, Christianist Craswellites, except that the Top Two prevents them from taking over the nomination process.

    I hate to tell ya, but I’m a bit more in touch with the average WA voter than you are.

  16. 18

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    proud leftist–
    Tell that to Corzine in NJ, wherever got their ass kicked in Virginia and Coakley in Massa2shits!
    Marginalizing & minimizing folks who disagree while in complete power was a huge mistake for Oba-Mao and the Democrat Party.
    All they had to do was embrace those folks in a reasonable converstation instead of arrogantly trying to put them down.
    Too late now.

    Seems like you are desperate. Using the President’s half white/half black skin color as a reason for disagreeing is mindless.
    I disagree with his POLICIES and ACTIONS.
    The majority of Americans now do.
    Screaming racism every time it gets hot for Oba-mao ain’t gonna work.
    Like the little boy who cried wolf…you’ve used it way too many times.

  17. 19

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Goldy spews–

    I hate to tell ya, but I’m a bit more in touch with the average WA voter than you are.

    You certainly are on top of the dwindling fringe lunatic left…I’ll concede that!

  18. 21

    proud leftist spews:

    Cynical @ 18: “All they had to do was embrace those folks in a reasonable converstation . . .”

    You can’t reason with crazy. It would be a complete waste of time for Democratic politicians to address the Teabaggers. Those folks have their minds made up; they are not open to persuasion. The Teabaggers represent the virulent right in this country, who can do nothing but harm to our national interests. The Massachusetts, NJ, and Virginia outcomes were due to many factors other than a Teabag wind blowing through. Brown, for instance, is not a Teabagger, and he will disappoint the lunatics like you who think he is.

  19. 22

    Chris Stefan spews:

    Cynical,
    You seem to forget that Dino Rossi is no Scott Brown and Sen. Patty Murray is no Coakley.

    About all the GOP is going to get out of this is pinning down some money that might have gone into another race.

  20. 23

    proud leftist spews:

    On a personal level, I didn’t want Rossi to run because I’m simply sick of his slick, smarmy, sycophantic persona. And, I’ve gotten more than fed up with the excretions of his supporters concerning how wonderful he is and how cheated he was in 2000. For the life of me, I do not understand why the Republicans are so fond of someone with such a thin record of accomplishment and so little to offer. GOP support for his candidacy demonstrates just how weak its bench is in this state.

  21. 24

    Steve spews:

    @21 “You can’t reason with crazy”

    You got that right. We get a shitload of the crazy delivered here every day.

    @21 “Brown, for instance, is not a Teabagger, and he will disappoint the lunatics like you who think he is.”

    Disappoint? Hmm, a rather mild reaction for a mob of crazy people. heh- Check out the comments in the Boston Globe article link below.

    @22 “Dino Rossi is no Scott Brown”

    These days it’s looking like Scott Brown is no Scott Brown.

    http://www.boston.com/news/loc....._on_brown/

  22. 25

    proud leftist spews:

    24
    Goes to show that no rational politician can satisfy the Teabaggers. We also see how nakedly partisan Teabaggers are–whatever Ds are for, they’re against, and they won’t stand for their politicians to ever side with Ds. This hyperpartisan characteristic of Teabaggers is one reason (their shrill lunacy being another) that they will have no shelf life.

  23. 26

    Another TJ spews:

    Goldy @ 17,

    I hate to tell ya, but I’m a bit more in touch with the average WA voter than you are.

    Now, now. Let’s be honest. I’ll bet you LOVE telling him that, mainly because it’s true. That it bugs him to no end is just an added perk.

  24. 27

    Steve spews:

    “they will have no shelf life”

    Both good news and bad, I’d say. Back when they were electorally thumped but good and believed they might not ever win another election the treasonous KLOWN bastards were talking secession and revolution. It looks to me like wingnut hatred of America isn’t leaving us anytime soon.

  25. 28

    spews:

    It’s too bad the appellation Know Nothing Party was used previously, over a century and a half ago. It would have fit the teabaggers perfectly — xenophobic, anti-intellectual, anti-governance.

    What? You never heard of the Know Nothings? It’ll be the same with the Tea Party.

  26. 29

    Daddy Love spews:

    I just love Cynical’s dream that despite Sarah Palin’s Didier endorsement, the GOP establishment’s favored candidate, Dino Rossi, whom Clint Didier obvoiusly despises, is the next Scott Brown, whatever that even means. he envisions some coherent nascent movement that will gain momentum at every turn and eventually be the vast majority of Americans, despite the data that indicates that the Tea Party is a raving minoirty who hod remarkably unpopular potistions on the issues,a dn who don’t realy seem capable of articualting a platform (that anyone would suport) or elect cadidates reliably. They’re really the split in the GOP.

    BTW, Scott Brown won like Dino prayed he would: he hid his conservative views and pretended that he would be moderate. Dino got his high-water mark using this strategy already. As he has been exposed, his support has dwidled until he is nearly at the low-30s of the hard-core Craswell supporters.

    it’s just like, “Crazy says what Crazy does.”

  27. 31

    Daddy Love spews:

    Scott Brown will not survive his next election.

    he’s trying to play both sides against the middle, but the Dems don’t like his moderation and the hard right teabaggers don’t like his “soft on democracy” approach.

    He will lose without support from either side. isn’t it 2012 that his seat is up?

  28. 34

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Rossi has no chance. It’s impossible for anyone other than a Democrat to win considering the unions and minority support for the Democratic Party in WA, not to mention the the I-5 Corridor support from Snohomish, Pierce, King, and Thurston Counties.

  29. 35

    don spews:

    Now according to the Times, Rossi will announce his candidacy via a video message on his website Wednesday morning. There will be no press conference, nor any media interviews, said Rossi spokesperson Mary Lane Strow. “He just wants to let the announcement speak for itself,” she said.

    The only thing that I hear Rossi saying is “Fuck you” to the voters. This stealth candidacy thing is gonna go over like a turd in a swimming pool.

  30. 36

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    And already we can see how it will go.
    The politically safe and never going to run again, yet peeved, Governor who beat Helmet-Hair-Hamlet twice, is going to be the attack dog.

    No doubt she’ll hammer Helmet-Hair-Hamlet repeatedly regarding his empty suited unreadiness.

    Poor Helmet-Hair-Hamlet.

  31. 37

    Michael spews:

    @34

    not to mention the the I-5 Corridor support from Snohomish, Pierce, King, and Thurston Counties.

    Snohomish, Pierce, King, and Thurston Counties= 3,750,000 people in a state with a population of 6,600,000. Last I checked it was still one person, one vote, so when we say that the I-5 corridor decided the election we’re really saying that the people of Washington State decided the election. They just happen to mostly live along the I-5 corridor.

    Well there’s this as well:
    Spokane County 2004
    Patty Murray 94,446
    George Nethercutt 101,511
    John Mills 2,648
    Mark Wilson 2,005

    Nethercutt could barely take his home county!

    Face it, Murray has state wide appeal. There isn’t a R out there that she can’t crush.

  32. 38

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    @37,

    The point is that the I-5 corridor will pretty much always get what it wants as far as elections go. They control the state government, and it’s where most of the union and government worker support lies. In short, it’s Democrat heaven.