This coming week is likely to be decision week for Dino Rossi, still mulling a race against Sen. Patty Murray. A few straws in the wind suggest Rossi will declare for the race.
First is a new Survey USA Poll, showing Rossi winning 52-42, a much wider margin than other polls show. Murray's people say their polls show the race a tossup. The Survey USA Poll also matched Murray with other declared, lesser-known Republican candidates, where Murray wins narrowly but does not get over 50 percent support.
Another straw in the political jet stream is announcement that Chris Widener, probably the strongest of the non-Dino challengers, is dropping out of the race. Widener, an author of inspirational books, said he was making room for the other candidates and specifically said his decision was unrelated to Rossi's plans. He had said earlier that he would stand aside if Rossi got into the Republican primary.
Rossi's camp is said to have completed a recent poll, and it will be largely based on these results that a decision will be made. The campaign is poised for the signal to go, with various operatives in Rossi's past as well as some new talent being talked to. It will probably be able to make a fast start, capitalizing on the current deeply critical mood about entrenched Democratic incumbents.
If Rossi does get in, he will put a lot of business interests on the spot. In these tough times, business naturally counts the powerful Murray an asset in helping the state economy. Rossi might be more to their ideological liking but he'll be a back-bencher and maybe a minor player of years to come. It may be that the best outcome for these interests is to have Rossi run, lead the ticket and stir excitement for many down-ballot Republicans, drive Murray more into the arms of big business — and then lose. Just how this helps Rossi's career is less clear.