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.”