DINO ROSSI takes rejection well. Vote him down, he comes back for more. The real estate salesmen cum Republican politician lost a bid for Washington State Senate in 1992 before winning the seat in 1996. In 2004 he lost to Democrat Chris Gregoire in a tight, triple-recount race for governor. He challenged Gregoire again in 2008, and was beaten handily. Now, in a race to oust three-term U.S. Senator Patty Murray, he’s back. And, says Matt Barreto, associate professor of political science at UW, he’s toast. Again.
The candidate’s name recognition will help him sail through the Republican primary (August 17), even against the Sarah Palin–endorsed Tea Party candidate, Clint Didier. But, says Barreto, the two-time gubernatorial loser label will hurt him in the general, November 2. The professor’s polling shows that, among likely voters (those who voted in the 2006 midterms), Murray has a 6 percent lead over Rossi.
“He has to convince independent and centrist voters that, other than running and losing campaigns or giving real estate talks, he’s done anything that qualifies him to be a U. S. senator,” says Barreto, who believes the Republican could lose the general by as much as 7 percent.
Rossi supporters say the losing streak is a nonissue. Campaign spokesperson Jennifer Morris points instead to the candidate’s state senate record—he helped balance the budget without raising taxes. “People know who Dino Rossi is.”
“Exactly,” says Barreto.