Call it Rematch 2008. Republican Dino Rossi has made his campaign against Governor Chris Gregoire official.
Rossi narrowly lost to Gregoire in the last election. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins has more on Thursday’s announcement.
Rossi kicked-off his campaign in Issaquah on Seattle’s eastside before heading to Spokane for a similar event.
Dino Rossi: “You’re the reason that today I’m announcing my candidacy for governor of the great state of Washington.”
Rossi immediately launched into a critique of Governor Gregoire’s tenure. He called the Democrat a four-decade state government insider.
By contrast Rossi says he’ll breathe fresh air into Olympia. He called for merit pay for top-performing teachers, promised to make congestion relief his top transportation priority and called for fiscal sanity. He touched on the razor-thin 2004 gubernatorial race but did not dwell on it.
Dino Rossi: “It’s about the future and we’re not going to get the job done by looking in the rearview mirror about 2004, but we are going to finish what we started aren’t we.”
Democrats were quick to respond to the Rossi announcement. Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz calls Rossi’s resume thin.
Dwight Pelz: “Dino Rossi is a Republican in the mold of George and Bush and we believe he’d take Washington backwards in the wrong direction.”
Conventional wisdom would say Rossi – a former State Senator - has an uphill battle against an incumbent governor who’s presiding over a strong economy. But Todd Donovan, a political science professor at Western Washington University, says Rossi brings some advantages to the race.
Todd Donovan: “He’s got high name recognition because of that last election, he’s got his image defined already in a pretty positive way from that last election, you know he’s a proven fundraiser.”
Gregoire has not officially announced her re-election campaign, but already has $2 million on hand.