This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.
Dino Rossi is aiming to clear a high hurdle this year, far higher than the ones he missed in his 2004 and 2008 runs for governor.
Challenging an influential, three-term U.S. senator is not the same as vying for the governor’s mansion against a political equal, or even the freshman incumbent.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray has amassed considerable power and political skill since she was elected to the Senate 18 years ago. Voters don’t send such a forceful advocate packing without very good reason.
That Rossi’s come this close – recent polls put him neck and neck with Murray – is testament to his appeal, strong campaign and the resonance of his fiscally conservative message.
But Rossi fails to make the case that Washington would be better off without Murray.
Murray has made a political career out of defying expectations. She’s grown into a formidable lawmaker who has proven she can both help lead the Democratic Party and work across the aisle when needed. To turn her out now, when she is at the height of her ability to fight for important state, regional and local projects, would be foolish.
We find no reason to do so, despite the criticism this editorial board expressed just two days ago about Murray smearing Rossi with blatant distortions of his public statements.
We don’t excuse her dirty campaigning, which is puzzling given her strong record in office. It’s that record, in spite of her disconcerting attacks, that earned our endorsement.
Murray serves in Senate leadership and chairs the Committee on Appropriations’ transportation subcommittee, a post that puts her in the Senate’s “college of cardinals.” She’s a tenacious champion of Washington state interests. She has secured billions of federal dollars to improve roads and bridges, build transit, clean up Hanford, improve port and border security and shore up the state budget.
Murray is also a dogged supporter of ensuring that troops have the equipment they need and that the nation takes care of its veterans, no small consideration here in the South Sound.
Rossi says he would eschew earmarks, but has not explained how he would otherwise ensure that worthwhile projects get the money due them.
He also faults Murray for not working to rein in federal spending. True, she and the rest of Congress must deal with the deficit, but the nation’s fiscal reckoning is coming whichever party is in charge. This state needs a scrappy defender looking out for it. Murray is that person, and The News Tribune endorses her for re-election.