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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, October 20th, 2018

Flashback: Eight years ago, the Seattle Times deemed Dino Rossi wrong on many big issues

Read­ers, wel­come to anoth­er install­ment in our Flash­back series, where we enlist the help of past Seat­tle Times edi­to­r­i­al boards to debunk short­sight­ed and poor­ly rea­soned edi­to­ri­als pub­lished on the Times’ op-ed page in the present day.

Today, 2010 Seat­tle Times is going to help explain why 2018 Seat­tle Times’ endorse­ment of Dino Rossi for the U.S. House does­n’t make sense.

Rossi — one of the best known fig­ures in the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty — is fac­ing Issaquah pedi­a­tri­cian Kim Schri­er, who is mak­ing her first run for office. Schri­er edged out two fel­low Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lengers in the Top Two elec­tion and is run­ning in the gen­er­al with their unequiv­o­cal sup­port. Health­care is her sig­na­ture issue, and she promis­es to be a check on Don­ald Trump’s pow­er if elected.

The Times edi­to­r­i­al page opposed Don­ald Trump’s can­di­da­cy for Pres­i­dent, and has on many occa­sions crit­i­cized his regime along with his col­lab­o­ra­tors in Congress.

Yet the Voice of the Blethens now sees fit to rec­om­mend Rossi to their sub­ur­ban and rur­al read­ers in the 8th Dis­trict, know­ing full well that if mil­i­tant­ly pro-Trump, Repub­li­can can­di­dates like Rossi win around the coun­try, the result will be a House that remains under Repub­li­can con­trol and thus under Trump’s control.

So much for split gov­ern­ment, which the Times edi­to­r­i­al page repeat­ed­ly tout­ed the virtues of dur­ing last year’s spe­cial elec­tions for the state Leg­is­la­ture.

The Times has of course endorsed Rossi before — for gov­er­nor in 2004 and again for the same posi­tion in 2008 (Rossi was defeat­ed by Chris Gre­goire each time). But in 2010, when Rossi made his first run for fed­er­al office, the Times passed him over in favor of U.S. Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray, say­ing she had earned anoth­er term.

Let’s com­pare what the Times said about Rossi back in 2010 with what they’re say­ing about him now. Here’s 2018 Seat­tle Times:

Con­gress needs more peo­ple like Rossi, a prag­mat­ic law­mak­er with a demon­strat­ed record of work­ing across the aisle with Democ­rats for solu­tions that work for the greater good.

Okay, 2010 Seat­tle Times, what’s your take?

On too many domes­tic and for­eign pol­i­cy mat­ters, Rossi has not dis­tin­guished him­self suf­fi­cient­ly from the Repub­li­can Par­ty line. He has missed numer­ous oppor­tu­ni­ties to estab­lish him­self as a North­west brand of Republican.

Good obser­va­tion, 2010 Times. Rossi likes to por­tray him­self as a rea­son­able, sun­ny Repub­li­can in his tele­vi­sion adver­tis­ing and on the debate stage. But that’s not the real Rossi. We know the real Rossi from his time in the Legislature.

The real Rossi is an extreme­ly rigid, uncom­pro­mis­ing extrem­ist who oppos­es allow­ing women to make their own repro­duc­tive health deci­sions, oppos­es tak­ing action to reverse cli­mate dam­age, oppos­es LGBT rights, and oppos­es fair rev­enue. The real Rossi is an enthu­si­as­tic backer of hostage-tak­ing Tim Eyman ini­tia­tives and would be a rub­ber stamp for Don­ald Trump’s agen­da if elected.

The real Rossi is also real­ly bad at inter­act­ing with peo­ple he does­n’t agree with. As a state leg­is­la­tor (rep­re­sent­ing the 5th and 45th LDs), Rossi went out of his way to make him­self unavail­able to con­stituents with dif­fer­ing views than his own.

And on many occa­sions when he did make him­self avail­able, he would monop­o­lize the meet­ing time by con­de­scend­ing­ly reel­ing off talk­ing points instead of listening.

Let’s move on. Here’s anoth­er bit from 2018 Seat­tle Times:

While Schri­er wants to fight, Rossi promis­es not to. He wants to go to D.C. and put his bud­get exper­tise to use. Giv­en his two past statewide elec­tions and nation­al rep­u­ta­tion in GOP cir­cles, there’s a bet­ter chance he will advance more quick­ly onto com­mit­tees and posi­tions where he can make a dif­fer­ence than Schri­er would if elected.

Okay, 2010 Seat­tle Times… your take?

Rossi has impres­sive cred­i­bil­i­ty bal­anc­ing a state bud­get. He would bring real skills to that task in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Yet on too many big issues, he is on the wrong side or too vague about his intentions.

These two pas­sages are very inter­est­ing, aren’t they?

We can see that the Seat­tle Times has always bought into the Rossi bud­get expert mythos. On that score, they have been con­sis­tent. But Rossi’s sup­posed fis­cal exper­tise was­n’t enough to rec­om­mend him back in 2010. Eight years lat­er, it’s being pitched by The Seat­tle Times as an asset, along with his par­ty experience.

If Repub­li­cans wind up in the minor­i­ty in the House after these midterms, it will not be to the dis­tric­t’s advan­tage to be rep­re­sent­ed by Rossi, regard­less of his polit­i­cal con­nec­tions and his lengthy involve­ment in Repub­li­can par­ty cir­cles. It is com­mon knowl­edge that he minor­i­ty in the U.S. House wields very lit­tle power.

Here’s the kick­er, though.

Even if Repub­li­cans do retain their House major­i­ty (which the Blethens and their edi­to­r­i­al writ­ers seem to be open­ly wish­ing for with this endorse­ment), it would still not be to the dis­tric­t’s advan­tage to be rep­re­sent­ed by Rossi because of his poor track record of leg­is­lat­ing and pro­vid­ing con­stituent ser­vices at the state level.

Let’s turn our focus to policy.

2018 Seat­tle Times acknowl­edges Rossi has a dif­fer­ent posi­tion on repro­duc­tive health than the edi­to­r­i­al page does, but, incred­i­bly, brush­es that aside because Rossi would not be in the Sen­ate vot­ing on judi­cial nom­i­na­tions. Um, what? (We look for­ward to hear­ing Planned Par­ent­hood’s response to that statement.)

Then, just when you’d expect they might address some of the oth­er major issues fac­ing the coun­try, the edi­to­r­i­al sim­ply ends!

Yes, Trump needs to be checked. But the fight­ing and the divi­sive­ness has led to a hope­less­ly dys­func­tion­al Con­gress, where peo­ple fight over issues, not push for solu­tions. Rossi has done that — and he can again.

Turns out, 2010 Seat­tle Times had a lot more to say about the issues than 2018 Seat­tle Times. For exam­ple, net neu­tral­i­ty was discussed:

On the issue of net neu­tral­i­ty, which involves unfet­tered access to the Inter­net, Rossi did not have a clue, even though this issue is press­ing with­in the tech industry.

Ouch! Finan­cial reform was dis­cussed, too:

Mur­ray ris­es to the chal­lenge. She believes in rea­son­able gov­ern­ment help for the econ­o­my, includ­ing finan­cial reforms to avoid anoth­er eco­nom­ic col­lapse. Rossi joins oth­er Repub­li­cans in oppos­ing them. How can any­one watch the finan­cial melt­down and not want to tight­en the rules to pro­tect the sys­tem and consumers?

It’s not enough to say these weren’t the right reforms.


Net neu­tral­i­ty went unmen­tioned in 2018 Seat­tle Times’ endorse­ment of Rossi. So did finan­cial reform, which like­wise remains a press­ing issue today.

Dur­ing his cur­rent cam­paign for Con­gress, Dino Rossi has not pledged to vote to over­turn Ajit Pai’s ter­ri­ble deci­sion to erad­i­cate net neu­tral­i­ty rules, nor has he com­mit­ted to break­ing up the big banks or do any­thing, any­thing at all to pro­tect Amer­i­cans from Wall Street’s greed and unscrupu­lous busi­ness practices.

Sup­pos­ed­ly, these are issues the Times cares about. Eight years ago, the edi­to­r­i­al board implied they were lit­mus test issues.

But this year? Rossi gets a pass.

Any­one who is an obser­vant long­time read­er of The Seat­tle Times has prob­a­bly noticed that the news­pa­per’s endorse­ment ratio­nales are just not con­sis­tent­ly well writ­ten. Some­times they can be good and thought­ful­ly argued, but just as often, they’re real­ly bad. Embar­rass­ing­ly bad. Piti­ful­ly bad.

I think it’s because in key races, Blethen decides who he wants to endorse (or what posi­tion he wants to go with in the case of a bal­lot mea­sure), and then one of the edi­to­r­i­al writ­ers has to cook up a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to go with the rec­om­men­da­tion, which may or may not square with the posi­tion pre­vi­ous­ly tak­en by the newspaper.

If the Times’ endorse­ments were based on the log­ic of a val­ues sys­tem of some sort, there would prob­a­bly be more con­sis­ten­cy and con­ti­nu­ity from year to year and cycle to cycle, but the endorse­ments appear to be based on oth­er con­sid­er­a­tions — like Blethen’s obses­sion with get­ting rid of the estate tax.

And so here we are.

For the third time in four­teen years, Dino Rossi has received the endorse­ment of The Seat­tle Times in a bid for high­er office. He’s three for four with Frank Blethen. Not bad. But while he has suc­cess­ful­ly sold him­self to the Times’ own­er­ship repeat­ed­ly, he has­n’t been able to win statewide. He’s now bet­ting he’ll have bet­ter luck in the 8th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, which Dave Reichert has held since 2004.

Rossi will no doubt wel­come this endorse­ment from the Times. But odd­ly enough, so may Democ­rats. After all, the high pro­file Repub­li­cans the Times usu­al­ly backs don’t win. If they did, we would have had Sen­a­tor Mike McGav­ick, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rea­gan Dunn, State Sen­a­tor Jiny­oung Englund, and yes.… Gov­er­nor Dino Rossi.

This poor­ly writ­ten edi­to­r­i­al might well help moti­vate Democ­rats who are hun­gry for a vic­to­ry in Wash­ing­ton’s 8th to work even hard­er for Kim Schri­er. We’ll see.

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