Spin Control

Suddenly, Washington senate seat in play?

National political experts are taking Dino Rossi's entrance into the race fairly seriously. Two "name" politicos -- Cook Political Report and Rothenberg Political Report -- are "upgrading" the state's status from ho-hum to looky there.

Or whatever words they use to connote boring races and exciting ones.

The Rothenberg Report had rated it as clear advantage for Democrats and Patty Murray, but with Rossi in they moved it to Narrow Advantage Murray.

The Cook Report moved it to Toss Up, from Solid Democrat. The Cook analysis is longer, but not always consistent. For example, it notes that Murray is ahead of Rossi by 4 percentage points in one recent poll, but ahead of a generic Republican by only 3 points. (So having a name like Rossi  jump in is at best a wash, folks.) But at least it points out that the polls are all over the map.

It also has a bit of history, noting that Washington voters sometimes pass over experienced incumbents in favor of change, as they did with House Speaker Tom Foley in 1994.

"Foley was well-liked and his position certainly gave Washington a great deal of clout in Congress, but neither could save him in an election that was about change," they write. (Except that Foley made some campaign mistakes, and some voters bought the concept that their vote counted for more if they could oust the speaker of the House, so the parallels aren't exact here, either.)

Anyway, this attention is good, regardless of your political persuasion. As long as the contest is believed to be close, more national political pundits will come to the state to watch the candidates and talk to the voters . . . and spend expense account money on hotels, restaurants, bars and rental cars. A hot U.S. Senate race through November would definitely be good for the economy.

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.





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