Guy Benson
SEATTLE -- Dino Rossi must be weary of political rollercoaster rides. In 2004, he won the initial vote tally in Washington State’s gubernatorial race by a few hundred votes and maintained his lead after a recount. A second recount, however, conveniently pushed Democrat Christine Gregoire over the top by 133 votes—amidst allegations that the state had failed to expeditiously mail ballots to military personnel deployed overseas. Despite the shady process, Rossi’s win was wiped out. In 2008, Rossi took a second crack at his state’s governorship, this time in a terrible electoral environment for his party. He again fell to Gregoire—this time by a legitimate six point margin—despite outpacing John McCain’s Washington margin by 11 points. Undeterred by previous heartbreaking setbacks, Rossi is ready for a third bite at the statewide office apple; he’s seeking to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Patty Murray this November.

True to form, Rossi’s latest race is wide open and has been chock full of twists and turns. Polling in the contest has been whiplash-inducing. In early September, Murray appeared to be opening up an insurmountable lead, but Rossi has rebounded to claim a narrow edge with three weeks to go. “[Murray’s] bounce is gone,” says Rossi’s Communications Director, Jennifer Morris. “We’re playing within the margin of error at this point.” Washington State Republicans are keeping their fingers crossed that 2010 won’t end up being another frustrating chapter in Rossi’s political career.

To prevent another electoral disappointment, his campaign is pounding two simple campaign themes: “Restore the dream, and control the spending.” It’s a savvy message because it addresses the economic concerns that permeate the national debate, and it underscores Rossi’s established record as an effective fiscal hawk. As a State Senator representing eastern King County in 2003, Rossi faced a daunting task when he chaired the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee. The state’s budget deficit had bloated to a record high, the Senate GOP caucus held a tiny one-seat majority, and Democrats controlled both the state House and Governorship. Rossi laid out a bold goal: “I said I was going to balance the budget without raising taxes, while protecting the most vulnerable in society,” he recalls as we chat after a campaign event in downtown Seattle. “What [my doubters] didn’t realize was that I didn’t care if I got re-elected, which was very freeing.”

Guy Benson

Guy Benson is's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography