Rossi starts in an easy manner

Republican contender Dino Rossi takes a critical stance but avoids much mention of Sen. Patty Murray.
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Dino Rossi

Republican contender Dino Rossi takes a critical stance but avoids much mention of Sen. Patty Murray.

In an interview with Crosscut, newly announced U.S. Senate candidate Dino Rossi said that lawmakers should jettison federal earmarks, a sacred cow of the West's political culture for decades.

"Washington is in need of adult supervision," Rossi said.

In his Wednesday (May 26) video announcement, Rossi avoided any mention of incumbent Sen. Patty Murray, which may be a harbinger of the campaign's strategy to unseat the three-term incumbent: Run against Washington and pay little or no attention to the senator behind the curtain.

"She'll be in the mix," Rossi said in the Thursday interview. "Her vision on the role of government." In sum, to Rossi, that role is an "overactive" federal mandate that throws into relief Rossi's vision for limited government.

At the same time, Rossi figures to underline his personal narrative as the grandson of an Italian immigrant who labored in the mines of Black Diamond, his schoolteacher father, and his formative years growing up in a Democratic household in Snohomish County (Rossi graduated from Woodway High School and worked as a janitor to underwrite his tuition at Seattle University).

It's a Horatio Alger story arc, although so, of course, is Patty Murray's.

The 24-hour-young candidate quickly waded into the Sturm und Drang of national policy.

For example, Rossi does not oppose Arizona's controversial immigration bill that was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23 and gives police wide latitude to detain suspected illegal immigrants.

"Immigration (reform) has been a colossal failure on a federal level," Rossi said. "We need a tall fence with a high gate (along the U.S.-Mexican border). A physical wall. We also need a guest-worker program that works."

Rossi said that Al Qaeda could easily establish operations in northern Mexico and cross the border into the United States. "We need a barrier or structure," he said.

Rossi is skeptical of healthcare reform. He worries about "hidden taxes" and "$1,800 per family." The reform legislation will cost Boeing "$150 million," while 85 percent of Americans are satisfied with the status quo, he said.

It's an issue that should be revisited, especially the need to increase insurance-provider competition and to reduce costs, Rossi said.

In addition, despite his private-sector roots, Rossi doesn't subscribe to cap-and-trade policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill that was introduced this month.

Rossi also benefits from a relaxed style and bonhomie that served him well as a retail politico and budget maven.

"Look at what I was just reading," Rossi says, picking up a copy of Graham Greene's The Human Factor. It was a joke in response to what I had warned Communications Director Mary Lane Strow would be my first question: "Which Catholic writer do you consider the superior stylist: Graham Greene or Flannery O'Connor?"

What is Dino Rossi currently reading? It's Amity Shlaes's The Forgotten Man, A New History of the Great Depression.

Note to readers: As a Democratic scribbler, I pledged to avoid trick questions or Viking spells. For now. The candidate, to his credit, betrayed little fear.  

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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson