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Eye On Olympia

Dino Rossi steps down as president of Forward Washington Foundation; still not saying if he’ll run..

Former and perhaps future Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi resigned from his Forward Washington Foundation more than two weeks ago, the group said in an email to supporters minutes ago.

"The announcement was delayed until today in order to give the foundation enough time to find a replacement and for Mr. Rossi to transition out of his role as president,"

reads a statement by the group.

They didn't have to look far. Taking Rossi's place: former Republican state Sen. Dan McDonald, who was already a board member of the group.

Foundation executive director Ted Dahlstrom blasted Democrats' recent formal complaint that Rossi was using his public appearances with the foundation as a stealth campaign for governor. The "baseless" complaint by "the governor's political agents," he wrote, had hurt the foundation's fundraising.

State Democratic Party spokesman Kelly Steele's response: "Once again Dino Rossi believes the rules don't apply to him. He has spent months illegally campaigning with his sleazy front group and now he's blaming others because he got caught."

Rossi's statement about running:

"I understand that people are going to read whatever they so choose into this announcement, but the fact remains that I have not decided nor declared that I will be a candidate for governor in 2008. My wife and I will assess if my running for governor is right for us and our four children, and for the next month or so I will also be assessing the depth of support among people throughout the state. When both those factors are resolved, I will make a decision and an announcement, one way or the other."

The effective date of his resignation -- Sept. 11 -- is the same day that Rossi gave a speech at the Tacoma Country and Golf Club to the 28th (legislative) District Republican Club. From an account posted on the group's web site:

"Finally Dino was introduced by Senator Mike Carrell, and Charlotte Carrell and five other women dressed in “Rossi Posse” t-shirts and cowboy hats got the crowd chanting DI-NO, DI-NO, Di-NO!

"Dino began by saying that he was not here to speak as president of Forward Washington, but rather as a fellow Republican with a message of hope."

In the speech, Rossi repeatedly criticized Gov. Chris Gregoire, saying she's overspending, expanding gambling and that her "health care mandates exemplify the liberal competition-killing philosophy."

"The press isn’t telling us these realities because they are aligned with Gregoire’s socialist, government control style of governance, but we can spread the word and we must."

the account says.

And, asked if he'll run, Rossi is quoted as saying: "We'll need the support of you and 129 of your friends."

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.