Opinion

Dino Rossi: A practical choice for governor | Mirror endorsement

Democrats and Barack Obama supporters in Washington state should consider crossing the aisle when voting for governor.

The Mirror recommends electing Dino Rossi in November. Considering the state’s financial outlook as well as Democratic dominance, a Republican such as Rossi could bring more balance to state government.

Rossi’s conservative stances on social issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, will be a minimal factor with a Democrat-controlled Legislature. However, Rossi represents veto weight from the other side of the spectrum, with the potential to pull political power closer to the center.

For now, Washington state’s economy sits at a crossroads as the nation’s economy slumps. Businesses represent the lifeblood of any state’s economy, and Rossi’s experience in the private business sector is a valuable strength. Strong businesses lead to more jobs, which ultimately draws and retains more talented employees in the state. In regards to the environment, any serious lawmaker understands that Washington state’s economy will live or die based on the health of Puget Sound.

In 2008, the image of Republicans nationwide suffers from the Bush administration’s polarizing politics that often rely on stoking the culture war to lure support. The perceived failure of the Bush administration certainly warrants doubt in Republican values and governance, even if most politicians typically fall in line with their party. If tables were turned, Democrats would endure the same fallout. That’s the nature of a political pendulum that swings eternal.

That said, Rossi has steered clear of emotional wedge issues by taking a pragmatic approach in this campaign.

Following a razor-thin victory and three recounts in the 2004 election, current Gov. Christine Gregoire has since presided over a spending increase that failed to keep up with economic growth.

Gregoire is an Olympia veteran and a respectable public servant. The nation’s economic crisis has touched every state, but can only shoulder a portion of the blame. The other culprit is circumstance: In a Democrat-controlled state House and state Senate, a Democratic governor currently wields veto power. If nature abhors a vacuum, then state government needs more balance to function efficiently.

For example, consider Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat in a state where conservative Republicans rule. Although she set a record for vetoes by a governor in her state, Napolitano has also worked with moderate Republicans to help Arizona’s economy grow — perhaps one reason why she was re-elected in 2006 by a margin of nearly 2-1.

There is indeed a risk for partisan gridlock should Rossi, a state senator from 1997 through 2003, get elected. Likewise, Democrats have no plans to make Rossi look good. But ideally, both Democrats and Republicans would be forced to compromise to see progress. Moreover, the people of Washington state can bypass any vetoes by the governor by taking an initiative directly to the voters.

If staunch Democrats cast aside their differences with Republicans and Rossi, they may find Rossi makes a better fit for leading Washington state’s government and economy on both sides of the mountains — not just in King County. Washington state has not had a Republican governor since 1985, and Rossi came close to winning the 2004 election in a blue state.

With an opportunity to bring more fiscal strengths, restraints and balance to Washington state’s economy, The Mirror recommends electing Dino Rossi for governor.

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