2008 It’s Official: Rossi is Running for Governor
posted by October 25 at 13:24 PMon
Dino Rossi officially entered the race for governor this morning, making his announcement to an enthusiastic crowd at the Village Theater in Issaquah. His announcement played up standard GOP themes: the Democratic incumbent governs for the government rather than the people, raises taxes, and releases felons. No mention of improving the business climate (his big pitch on the 2004 trail). I guess that’s not a surprise.
Rossi also pledged to make relieving traffic congestion the number one priority of his administration. (At a press briefing afterwards, he would not say definitively how he was voting on the $17.8 billion roads and transit package, allowing only that he was a ‘No’ vote now, but could be convinced to vote ‘Yes’ if the evidence mounts that Prop. 1 would actually ease congestion.)
To quote a skeptical Democratic spin doctor: “So, he’s reserving the right to flip flop? These are yes or no questions [on the ballot.]”
At the briefing, I asked Rossi about children’s health care. In his speech, he had trashed Gov. Gregoire for doing nothing to make health insurance affordable besides convening a blue ribbon commission. Actually, the governor signed a major Democratic initiative last session that added 38,000 children to Washington’s health care plan.
That plan, however, is threatened by President Bush’s veto of the recent SCHIP bill. So, I asked Rossi if he supported U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert’s (R-8) recent vote to override Bush’s veto. (Rossi lives in Reichert’s district.) Rossi’s answer: “I’m not in Congress. I didn’t talk about health care in my speech. I gave you all lots of new stuff that you haven’t had before. There’s a lot to write about.”
(BTW: He did talk about health care in his speech. Quote: “Have you seen your health care costs come down? Do you have more health insurance options? But if you were to read the news releases from the governor’s office, you would think our health care problems were solved. All is well.” )
I suppose Rossi did offer up some new stuff: uh, a website, TellDino.com, where people are supposed to send in complaints about government. And he promised to raise teachers’ salaries.
However, as I said, Rossi’s was mostly boilerplate—criticizing Gregoire’s budget for its unsustainable spending. At the press conference, I pointed out what I’ve been saying on Slog for months, that the state budget he helped write as a state senator in 2003 (which he boasted about in his speech) is, in fact, the same size as Gregoire’s budget when measured as a percentage of the state GDP. Makes sense: As the state economy grows, the state budget grows so the government can service that growing economy.
I also asked him how he was going to fix congestion (or raise teachers’ salaries for that matter) without raising taxes. He said he supports gas taxes for funding congestion relief (true—as a state senator he voted for the nickel tax).