2008 Gregoire vs. Rossi, Round 3
posted by October 1 at 18:56 PMon
Tonight is the third (of five or possibly six) debates in the Washington State governor’s race. Are you still awake?
The debate begins in a few minutes (7 p.m. on PBS), so consider this your open thread for discussing whatever transpires. I’ll be watching, and will have a few things to say tomorrow morning on Slog I’m sure. Meantime, here’s a bit of what Erica C. Barnett has to say about the race in her new story, “Meet Your New Governor,” which is out in the current issue of The Stranger.
In the years since she eked out that victory in 2004, Gregoire has been a cautious governor in the Gary Locke mold—taking solidly progressive positions on safe-bet Democratic issues like stem-cell research and global warming, but hedging her bets on shakier ground like gay marriage and the fate of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Gregoire is tough, but she comes across as brittle under pressure—unlike Rossi, whose dodges are so artful you hardly notice when he fails to answer a question. In last week’s debate, for example, Rossi dodged a question about Gregoire’s budget with a story about his daughter “little Jillian,” and couched a call for reducing workers’ compensation in an anecdote about starting out in business with “$200 in the bank and a $200 car and nowhere to go but up.”
Perhaps more importantly, Rossi is proving himself to be a far more robust, adaptive, and compelling candidate than the Rossi of 2004. Dino 2.0 is as smooth and soothing as a shot of Ovaltine, in stark contrast to his slick real-estate- huckster persona four years ago. Despite winning statewide election four times—three times as attorney general, in addition to her narrow 2004 win—Gregoire has always had trouble connecting with voters on a personal level and motivating Democratic voters to turn out for her. Although Washington State went heavily for John Kerry in 2004, hundreds of thousands of Democratic voters failed to support Gregoire, leading to two recounts and Gregoire’s subsequent razor-thin margin of victory.