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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Olympia

Builders and friends double down on Rossi…

With the gubernatorial election down to the wire, the Building Industry Association of Washington and its political allies are more than doubling their bet on Republican challenger Dino Rossi.

ChangePAC, a BIAW-led group that also includes farm- and small-business groups, is pouring nearly $4 million in independent expenditures -- i.e. spending not coordinated with Rossi -- in the campaign's final weeks. The money "will be spent to support Dino Rossi," according to the PAC.

From the group's emailed statement:

"ChangePAC’s goal in spending money to support Dino Rossi is to level the playing field by providing a voice for small businesses to counter the heavy influence of big corporations, labor unions, environmental groups and tribes. These anti-small business special interest groups spend millions of dollars to support Gregoire, and without ChangePAC there would be a vacuum in the information voters receive. ChangePAC ensures small businesses have as loud a voice as the anti-small business faction—a voice small business has never had before."

The cash means that the race to be Washington's next governor has become a $30-million-plus fight. Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, has raised $10.8 million; Rossi's raised $9.8 million. Evergreen Progress, a Gregoire-backing PAC funded largely by the Democratic Governor's Association and labor unions, has raised more than $5 million.

Democrats have been trying hard to paint Rossi as a puppet of the conservative builders and have slammed BIAW for allegedly failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions until months after they were collected.

"The BIAW is trying to buy this election for Rossi," said Aaron Ostrom, executive director of the liberal advocacy group Fuse. The "breathtaking" amount of spending to get Rossi elected, he said, "casts a dark shadow over Rossi and tarnishes the entire election."

Liberal blogger David Goldstein called the cash infusion "a stunning, disturbing and potentially game changing development that will allow the BIAW to saturate the airwaves with vicious attack ads, quite possibly swinging this election to Rossi."

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