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Friday, February 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Never say never’ Rossi is the talk of pundits and pollsters

OLYMPIA – The favorite game among the political “experts” these days is Will Rossi Run?

It’s sort of like Trivial Pursuit without the board, but the cognoscenti award themselves colored wedges by ferreting out clues as they roll the dice and run in circles. No winners yet, except maybe the polling firms, which are cleaning up.

Depending on whose poll you like in the past fortnight, Patty Murray is comfortably ahead or Dino Rossi is surging ahead or they’re in a statistical dead heat. Never have so many been polled so much for so little clarity.

The fact that Rossi has come no closer to announcing his candidacy for U.S. Senate than “You never say never” discourages no one from playing the game. After all, the Legislature is out of session, the governor’s race is two years off, most of the congressional races are thought to be shoo-ins for the incumbents, and we political reporters have columns to write and expense accounts to justify.

Oh, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which apparently has even less to do than West Side political reporters, calls or e-mails almost daily in an effort to scuff up Rossi before he gets in the race, if he gets in the race. So everyone’s Dino Early Warning System is cranked to DefCon 2 (the stage just before the nukes start exploding), and almost anything can set it off. A recent story that a company in which Rossi is a partner has a piece of property in Snohomish County that is six months late on its taxes made the national political blogs.

So when a news release announced late last week that Rossi will serve as master of ceremonies May 19 as the three Republicans from the 7th Legislative District kick off their re-election campaigns in Colville, my DEWS went off. Why would Rossi schlep all the way to Colville if he weren’t running for Senate?

Rep. Joel Kretz, of Wauconda, said he thinks Rossi will run for something, either this year or in 2012, but he’s coming because “he’s a bigger draw than I am,” Kretz joked.

He’s a good emcee, said state Sen. Bob Morton of Kettle Falls, and “he’s got a lot of friends over here.”

Friends who could, like, help him win the race against Murray? Morton said he has no insight into whether Rossi’s getting into that race, but he added, “My personal opinion is he’ll make a whale of a governor.”

Morton already endorsed Senate colleague Don Benton, of Vancouver, to run against Murray, so it might be a little awkward to have Benton’s likely primary foe doing candidate shtick at his re-elex kick. (Political reporters with too much time on their hands sometimes make bad rhymes. Sorry.)

While Rossi is getting attention for playing Hamlet, other Republicans work at traditional campaigning like snagging endorsements. Benton picked up a nod last week from Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke, who said he served with Benton in the Legislature and considers him “a guy who does what he says he will do.”

Mielke said he made his endorsement based on who’s in the race now, and has no special insight into whether Rossi will run. But he has waited a long time to decide, and even someone with Rossi’s name familiarity needs to raise millions for a competitive statewide race.

“You don’t get those days back,” Mielke said.

Oh, spit. Send DEWS back to DefCon 5, colonel, and take the bombers off alert.

Spin Control, a weekly political column by veteran reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily posts, videos and reader comments. You can also see some of the recent Murray-Rossi poll numbers at /blogs/spincontrol.

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