It's finally official: Republican Dino Rossi, the former Issaquah state senator and two-time candidate for governor, announced this morning that he's running for the U.S. Senate.

Rossi, a commercial real estate investor who lost his 2004 bid for governor by just 133 votes and lost his 2008 bid 53 to 46, joins a crowded field of Republican hopefuls, including state Sen. Don Benton (R-17) and Tea Party candidate Clint Didier, who are going after senior U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

In his video announcement, Rossi criticizes Congress for "piling more and more debt on our children and grandchildren...ramming through a partisan ill-conceived health care bill, and passing job-killing taxes and regulations."

On specific issues, Rossi came out against the pending cap and trade bill and said he would get rid of the current health care bill. His announcement struck familiar GOP themes, praising limited government and criticizing bureaucrats.

Here's the AP story on Rossi's big announcement.

The Democrats and Sen. Murray's campaign immediately responded with statements of their own. The Democrats focused on questions about Rossi's business ethics rather than the issues, stating:
His career was launched by a real estate manager who, at the time, was under investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's office and the King County prosecutor for defrauding investors. Yet Rossi still followed that real estate manager to several different firms, later providing contradicting explanations for his actions. As a state senator, Rossi accepted a $50,000 loan from an investor who is now under investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office for masterminding a $100 million Ponzi scheme. As a state senator, Rossi also invested in real estate properties with two prominent Washington state lobbyists. Since leaving government, he has been a principal at Coast Equity Partners, which recently came under fire when their commercial properties in Everett fell behind with over $20,000 in back taxes.

The Murray campaign, which has a formidable $6 million on hand, hyped Sen. Murray's "Main Street values" vs. "Wall Street bailouts" (Rossi also criticized the bailouts) and played up Democrat vs. Republican themes.
“This election will be a choice between putting people back to work and taking us backwards to the failed Bush era policies that got us into this mess.  It’s a choice between who has stood up to special interests and who will cater to them."

Rossi's campaign said Rossi would not be doing interviews with the press until Thursday. The Republicans, while making sure not to promote Rossi over the other GOP candidates in the race, issued a statement.
“As a member of the Democrat leadership, Murray championed the President’s unpopular health spending bill, which will increase taxes and raise costs for middle class Washingtonians. And while she claimed the massive stimulus debacle would ‘create jobs and get our country back on track,’ Washingtonians continue to suffer from high unemployment and more lost jobs. Over the last year, Murray has also voted to raise the national debt ceiling to an alarming $14.3 trillion.

“Families, seniors, and job-creators in the Evergreen State deserve an independent-minded leader who will represent their values and fight for their best interests – not another rubberstamp for President Obama and the Democrat party leaders in D.C. That’s why we are confident that voters will hold Patty Murray accountable for her out-of-step voting record and elect a Republican as their next U.S. Senator this November.”

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