If the election were held today, according to Portland pollster Bob Moore, twice-defeated Republican Dino Rossi would beat three-term Senator Patty Murray. Rossi, who was defeated in the governor's race by Chris Gregoire in 2004 and 2008, hasn't shown interest in the race publicly, but with these kind of numbers, you can expect area GOP activists to ask the former state senator and commercial real estate salesman to consider it. So far Rossi isn't tipping his hand:
Rossi told POLITICO that he has “no plans to run for any office at this point.” He said he hadn’t known he was going to be tested in the poll, and he hadn’t discussed the results with his family.
“I’ve been through a couple of long, drawn-out races already here in Washington. I kind of like having dinner with my family,” Rossi said.
But he didn’t completely rule out a campaign either. “I never say never,” said Rossi. He said he hadn’t been contacted yet by anyone from D.C. encouraging him to run.
The pollster involved, Moore Insight, has just recently given a boost to Rossi fans. In the fall of 2009, Moore re-ran the 2008 election contest and found that if the 2008 election has been run a year later, Rossi would have won.
Don't expect complacency from Washington's senior Senator; in 2004, Murray steamrolled a veteran congressman from Eastern Washington, Rep George Nethercutt. Rossi has never tried his hand at federal office, where the dynamics on abortion politics are even tougher than they are on state level. (There would be no way for Rossi to say that he's "not running for Supreme Court," which was his response to abortion questions during 2004 campaign. Senators get to vote on Supreme Court nominees, after all.)
There are two GOP candidates in the race—one is a former jock and farmer from Pasco, the other a "motivational speaker." If Rossi were to run against Murray, he would be a formidable opponent, and a plausible alternative should voters sour on Democrats in a big way in 2010.